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In addition, the terms of Nakoula’s supervised release indicate he was allowed to use computers with prior approval from his probation officer. It’s possible he received approval to post the trailer for “Innocence of Muslims.”

“Usually the probation officer will be most interested in preventing him from engaging in any kind of activity related to the original crime, so another factor would be what kind of permission did the probation officer give him?” she said. “Why would (the film) be of concern in a bank fraud case? That’s a whole nother wrinkle.”

If federal probation officials _ or those above them _ decide not to proceed against Nakoula, the public likely will never know what went into the decision or who was involved without a court proceeding, Rosenthal said.

If the case does go before a judge, Nakoula could argue he was singled out on a probation technicality for exercising his right to free speech, Rosenthal said.

Either way, the outcome to the investigation could take a long time and isn’t as straightforward as it may seem, said Rummel, the former prosecutor.

The issues are unusual for the probation revocation context and the allegations may be difficult to prove,” she said.

“It’s not like they have a couple dirty drug tests and two weeks later they’re in court.”


Risling reported from Los Angeles.