Anti-Muslim film maker due in court

Sun, Oct 7, 2012, 01:00

A man behind an anti-Islam film that stoked violent protests in the Muslim world is due to appear in a federal court in Los Angeles next week.

He will face a preliminary hearing on whether he violated the terms of his probation over a 2010 bank fraud conviction, court papers show.

Mark Basseley Youssef (55), who before went by the name Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is scheduled to go before US district judge Christina Snyder on Wednesday.

The terms of his release from prison last year include a ban on using aliases without the permission of a probation officer.

The Egyptian-born Mr Youssef has been described as the producer of a crudely made 13-minute video filmed in California and circulated online under a number of titles, including "Innocence of Muslims." It mocked the Prophet Mohammad and sparked a torrent of anti-American unrest in Egypt and other Muslim countries last month.

The US Marshals Service arrested Mr Youssef on September 27th and took him before a federal judge that day for a hearing held amid tight security at which prosecutors accused him of violating the terms of his probation.

A judge that day ordered him held without bail, and a federal prison official later confirmed he was taken to a high-rise federal jail in central Los Angeles.

The defendant declared at the outset of his last hearing that he had changed his name to Mark Basseley Youssef in 2002 from his previous name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

While previous court documents referred to him as Nakoula, the latest court papers from Friday name him as Youssef. He most recently lived in a suburb of Los Angeles.

An actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, who appeared briefly in the clip, has accused him in a federal lawsuit of making the film under the alias Sam Bacile. Garcia has said she thought she was working on a historical adventure film and did not know it had anything to do with Mohammad.

Other people who appeared in or worked on the film have made similar claims.

Federal authorities have stressed that they are not investigating the film over its content, but Mr Youssef's arrest has led to some criticism from free speech advocates.

Prosecutors did not specify which terms of his 2011 conditional release he is suspected of violating, but they said he had used aliases and that they could seek to have him sent to prison for up to 24 months if a judge finds he violated his probation.

Reuters