LOS ANGELES — A California man behind an anti-Islam film that stoked violent protests in the Muslim world was due in court in Los Angeles today for a hearing on whether he violated his probation on a bank fraud conviction and should be sent back to prison.
The Egyptian-born man, known publicly as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, has been in federal custody since late last month and was due to appear before a US district court judge under his legal name, Mark Basseley Youssef, court papers showed.
A crudely made 13-minute video attributed to Youssef was filmed in California and circulated online under several titles including Innocence of Muslims. It portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant.
The clip sparked a torrent of anti-American unrest in Egypt, Libya and dozens of other Muslim countries last month. The violence coincided with an attack on US diplomatic facilities in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya.
US authorities, as outrage against the film mounted, said they were not investigating the film itself. But prosecutors have said they could seek to have Youssef, 55, sent back to prison for up to two years if he is found to have violated his probation.
Under the terms of his release from prison last year, Youssef is barred from using aliases without the permission of a probation officer and was restricted from accessing the Internet. He is facing eight possible probation violations, including the use of aliases, prosecutors said.
“It will be interesting to see what the judge does and what the reaction is around the world,” said Stan Goldman, a Loyola Law School professor. (Reuters)