Man behind anti-Islam film to return to jail for a year
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The convicted California scam artist behind a crude anti-Islam film that stoked protests against the United States across the Muslim world was sent back to jail for a year on Wednesday over probation violations stemming from his role in the video.
The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, who has been publicly identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, but whose legal name is Mark Basseley Youssef, admitted to several probation violations during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
At least one violation involved his use of an alias, Sam Bacile, a name that several actors from the film said he used in producing the video, which was circulated on line under several titles, including "The Innocence of Muslims."
The 13-minute clip attributed to Youssef, 55, portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant, although cast members have said they were misled into appearing in a film they believed was an adventure drama called "Desert Warrior."
After the fact, actors said they learned that some of their lines spoken in the production had been dubbed over.
The film touched off a torrent of anti-American unrest in Arab and Muslim countries. The start of the violence on September 11 coincided with an attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
U.S. and other foreign embassies were also stormed in various cities across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is considered blasphemous.
Youssef, who had been on probation following his release from jail on a bank fraud conviction, was taken into custody in September over probation issues and has been held without bond at a Los Angeles federal detention center.
Prosecutors said Youssef violated the terms of his release from prison in June by using aliases, fraudulently obtaining a California driver's license under an assumed name and lying to probation officers by falsely claiming his only involvement with the anti-Islam film was as a script writer.
In court on Wednesday, he admitted to four violations and four others were dismissed. In addition to being sent back to jail for a year, Youssef was ordered to be placed on four years of supervised released once he gets out.
(Reporting by Brandon Lowery; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Andre Grenon)