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California man behind anti-Muslim film ordered jailed
Question of the Day
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Thursday determined a California man behind a crudely produced anti-Islamic video that inflamed parts of the Middle East is a flight risk and ordered him detained.
Citing a lengthy pattern of deception, U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said Nakoula Basseley Nakoula should be held after officials said he violated his probation from a 2010 check fraud conviction.
“The court has a lack of trust in this defendant at this time,” Segal said.
Nakoula had eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases, and he might face new charges that carry a maximum two-year prison term, authorities said.
After his 2010 conviction, Nakoula was sentenced to 21 months in prison and was barred from using computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.
In July, a 14-minute trailer for the film “Innocence of Muslims” was posted on YouTube, leading to protests around the Middle East. The trailer depicts Muhammad as a womanizer, religious fraud and child molester.
Nakoula, a Christian originally from Egypt, went into hiding after he was identified as the man behind the trailer.
In court Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said Nakoula was flight risk, partially because of the uproar over the film. The violence in the Middle East broke out Sept. 11 and has spread since, killing dozens.
“He has every incentive to disappear,” Dugdale said.
The balding Nakoula, 55, was handcuffed and shackled in court.
The hearing had an unusual wrinkle as the news media were banned from the courtroom where Nakoula was appearing, and reporters had to watch the proceedings on a TV in a different courthouse a couple blocks away. Court officials didn’t give a reason for the decision.
The full story about Nakoula and the video still isn’t known.
The movie was made last year by a man who called himself Sam Bacile. After the violence erupted, a man who identified himself as Bacile spoke to media outlets including The Associated Press, took credit for the film and said it was meant to portray the truth about Muhammad and Islam, which he called a cancer.
The next day, the AP determined there was no Bacile and linked the identity to Nakoula, a former gas station owner with a drug conviction and a history of using aliases. Federal authorities later confirmed there was no Bacile and that Nakoula was behind the movie.
Before going into hiding, Nakoula acknowledged to the AP that he was involved with the film, but said he only worked on logistics and management.
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