'Innocence Of Muslim' Director Nakoula Basseley Nakoula Appears In Court
Convicted felon Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, the producer and mastermind behind Innocence of Muslims, the anti-Islamic film that set off violent and lethal protests in the Middle East, appeared in court for alleged probation violation, facing a maximum of three years in prison if he is proven to have infriged his parole. Magistrate Judge Suzanne H. Segal ordered the arrest and detainment of Nakoula, who had been in hiding with his family after receiving threats, and cited a “lengthy pattern of deception” and potential “danger to the community,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
On supervised release after a 2010 conviction for bank fraud, Nakoula now faces eight charges for transgressing his probation, as well as for giving false information to authorities regarding the controversial film, in which he said his role was limited to scriptwriting — when in fact he was later found to have a far "more expansive" role in the filmmaking process.
Nakoula reportedly used aliases to dupe the unsuspecting cast and crew, including Anna Gurji (pictured), who did not realize that their scenes would be made into a collage of offensive propaganda, nor that he was in fact a convicted felon operating under three different names. Nakoula, as Sam Bacile, had previously told the press that his project was financed by wealthy Jewish donors, while actors' paychecks were traced to the bank account of a so-called Abanon Basseley Nakoula, linked to the Cerritos property where Nakoula lives. When interrogated, Nakoula revealed that he had legally changed his name to yet another, Mark Basseley Youssef, in 2002.
No charges have been made regarding the film's content, however. Even after Arab leaders asked the U.S. to prohibit anti-Islamic insults, President Barack Obama maintained that the film was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, despite condemning it for its crude offense. Nakoula also does not face any criminal charges for his Internet use as of yet, although his probation terms disallowed the possession or use of any device with Internet access without the supervisor's permission, which he violated by uploading a trailer of the film onto YouTube that depicts Prophet Muhammad as a religious fraud and child molester.
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