LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man linked to an anti-Islam film that has stoked violent protests across the Muslim world was in custody and appeared at a preliminary bail hearing in Los Angeles on Thursday linked to a bank fraud conviction, court officials said.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, has been under investigation by probation officials looking into whether he violated the terms of his 2011 release from prison on a bank fraud conviction while making the film.
As a condition of his release, Nakoula, a Coptic Christian who most recently lived in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos, was barred from accessing the Internet or using aliases without the permission of a probation officer, court records show.
Nakoula was called to appear for a preliminary bail hearing in the case, said Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the administrative office of U.S. Courts. Nakoula was in custody for the hearing, said court spokesman Gary Horimoto.
The crudely made 13-minute movie, billed as a trailer, 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.
On September 11 and in the ensuing days, the clip sparked a torrent of anti-American unrest across the Muslim world. The outbreak of violence coincided with an attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Federal probation officers investigating whether Nakoula violated the terms of his release while making the film interviewed him on September 15.
Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Mary Slosson; editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham