Man behind anti-Islam film due in L.A. court next week

LOS ANGELES Sat Oct 6, 2012 11:34pm EDT

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (C) is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California September 15, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (C) is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California September 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Bret Hartman

Related Topics


Air strikes in Gaza

Our latest photos from the scene.   Slideshow 

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California 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 for 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 U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder on Wednesday, the documents filed on Friday in U.S. District Court show.

The terms of Youssef's 2011 release from prison include a ban on using aliases without the permission of a probation officer.

The Egyptian-born 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 U.S. Marshals Service arrested Youssef on September 27 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 downtown Los Angeles.

The defendant, who had worked in the gas station industry, 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 Youssef's arrest has led to some criticism from free speech advocates.

Prosecutors did not specify which terms of Youssef's 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.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Eric Walsh)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (3)
The only reason they would want to send him to prison is so it is much harder to find out who financed the film and who he was working for.

Great investigative reporting reuters, asking the tough questions as usual!

So when are you going to bring out ‘reuters magazine’ by the way? Stop pretending to be journalists…

Oct 07, 2012 3:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
1.commoner wrote:
Under the current administration, in the United States, justice has taken a vacation in favor of political agenda. Yes, this individual of dubious motive and uncertain allegiance has broken his parole agreements and, for that, should face penalties. But both the outcry and the penalties are based on the political motivation of a failed administration whose absence of substantive foreign policy is the true basis for American hatred in the Muslim world.

Oct 07, 2012 9:30am EDT  --  Report as abuse
alibabaforty wrote:
the video about mohammed is a fact finding video about islam.islam spread by sword.muslim use violence aganist christan in egypt. mohammed had several wives. muslim burn the bible in front of american embassy and no body cry like muslim did.muslim put a child in jail because a mentally ill person said that child urinate on the Quran.
My question why the federal authority try to find reason to put that man in jail to please the muslim fanatic?

Oct 08, 2012 11:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.