- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Calif. man behind film denies probation violations
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The California man behind the anti-Muslim film that sparked violence in the Middle East denied Wednesday that he violated terms of his probation for a 2010 bank fraud conviction by using aliases and lying about his role in the movie.
Mark Basseley Youssef, 55, made a brief appearance in a courtroom packed with media and quietly repeated “deny” when all eight probation violation allegations were read by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder, who scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Nov. 9.
None of the alleged violations have to do with the content of the movie or whether Youssef was the one who posted to YouTube the 14-minute trailer for “Innocence of Muslims,” which depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, womanizer and pedophile. Federal authorities are seeking two years in prison for Youssef, who remains in custody and held without bail.
Youssef fled his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos and went into hiding when violence erupted in Egypt on Sept. 11. The violence spread, killing dozens, and enraged Muslims have demanded severe punishment for Youssef, with a Pakistani cabinet minister offering $100,000 to anyone who kills him.
“My client was not the cause of the violence in the Middle East,” attorney Steven Seiden said after the hearing. “Clearly, it was pre-planned and it was just an excuse and a trigger point to have more violence.”
The First Amendment offers broad protections for filmmaking and other forms of expression. Jody Armour, a professor at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law, said he is troubled that the government went after Youssef only after the movie caused outrage in the Middle East.
“They are saying we aren’t going after him on the content, but the reason you are zeroing in on this other behavior is because he was somebody who published a film that caused a violent reaction in another part of the world,” Armour said. “That’s why there’s almost this kind of a dog-whistle quality by this maneuver by the government.”
Federal prosecutors did not comment after the hearing.
Youssef was convicted of bank fraud in 2010 and sentenced to 21 months in prison. Authorities said Youssef used more than a dozen aliases and opened about 60 bank accounts and had more than 600 credit and debit cards to conduct the check fraud scheme.
After Youssef was freed, he was barred from using computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer. He also wasn’t supposed to use any name other than his true legal name without the prior written approval of his probation officer.
At least three names have been associated with Youssef since the film trailer surfaced _ Sam Bacile, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Youssef. Bacile was the name attached to the YouTube account that posted the video
Court documents show Youssef legally changed his name from Nakoula in 2002, though when he was tried he identified himself as Nakoula. He wanted the name change because he believed Nakoula sounded like a girl’s name, according to court documents.
Among the violations Youssef denied Wednesday were using “Nakoula” as his name throughout his bank fraud case, obtaining a fraudulent California driver’s license and telling federal authorities that his role in the film was limited to writing the script. Prosecutors have previously said there is evidence showing Youssef had a larger role in the film, but they declined to elaborate.
Seiden explained that Youssef denied all allegations on procedural grounds.
“People go to court all the time and plead not guilty and then later on things transpire in the case as things are known,” Seiden said when asked why his client denied he changed his name. “We’ll see how this plays out on Nov. 9.”
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- House pushes through two-year Ryan-Murray budget deal
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow