Producer Of Anti-Muslim Film Arrested On Probation Violation
The California man identified as the producer of Innocence Of Muslims, the film that has sparked protests across the Muslim world, was arrested late yesterday on charges related to violation of the terms of his probation on Federal fraud charges:
Los Angeles (CNN) – Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man allegedly behind the inflammatory film “Innocence of Muslims,” was ordered held without bail Thursday after being arrested in California and accused of violating his probation.
“He engaged in a likely pattern of deception both to his probation officers and the court,” Judge Suzanne Segal said in issuing her ruling.
The preliminary bail hearing began with Segal asking the defendant — dressed in gray slacks and a white and yellow striped T-shirt, with handcuffs and chain around his waist — what his true name was.
“Mark Basseley Yousseff,” he replied.
The judge then asked again, what is your name?
“Mark Basseley,” he said this time, again without spelling the name out.
The lawyer for the suspect, who has used at least 17 false names, according to court documents, but is mostly referred to as Nakoula, then argued for $10,000 bail.
Attorney Steve Seiden said his client had always maintained contact, in person and by telephone, with probation officers who have been monitoring him since his 2010 bank fraud conviction. But the main reason Nakoula shouldn’t be jailed, his lawyer argued, was for safety reasons, saying the anti-Islam film would make him a target of fellow inmates.
“It is a danger for him to remain in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles because there are a large number of Muslims in there,” Seiden said. “We are extremely concerned about his safety.”
Making no mention of aliases, the lawyer added that Nakoula had made no attempt to flee Southern California and never would.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale then addressed the judge, claiming the man — who he referred to as Nakoula or Bassil — had engaged in a “pattern of deception” and “a person who cannot be trusted.”
Dugdale pointed to a probation report citing eight allegations in which Nakoula had allegedly violated his probation. One of those was a requirement not to use aliases without permission from his probation officer, something the prosecutor said Nakoula did on at least three instances: during his fraud case, when he tried to get a passport in 2011, and during the making of the film. Dugdale said Nakoula had deceived the cast of the film, as well as his probation officers.
The Judge in the case has also set a hearing to determine Nakoula’s actual identity, and there will be a formal revocation hearing at some point in the future. Until then, Nakoula will remain in custody, most likely segregated from the general population for his safety.
No doubt, some people are going to allege that Nakoula is being punished for his association with the movie, but if the allegations made by the U.S. Attorney are true then there seems to be a fairly strong case that he has in fact violated the terms of his probation and indeed may not even be using his correct legal name. Given the nature of his fraud conviction, that would amount to a fairly serious problem.