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Producer of anti-Muslim film sentenced to prison for probation violations

JTA

November 8, 2012 | 10:54 am

An Egyptian Christian who was one of the key figures behind an anti-Islam film that sparked violence in the Middle East and elsewhere was sentenced to prison.

Mark Basseley Youssef, 55, of Los Angeles, who reportedly wrote and produced "Innocence of Muslims," was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to a year in federal prison for probation violations.

Youssef, also known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was arrested Sept. 27 in Los Angeles for violating his probation in a 2010 check-kiting case. He was charged with eight probation violations, including lying to police when he was detained for questioning. He was ordered held without bail after being called a flight risk. 

Youssef told the court that he used several fake names and obtained a driver's license under a false name, according to Reuters.

The sentence has nothing to do with his involvement in the controversial film and its aftermath, the court stressed, though the violations came to law enforcement's attention due to the controversy surrounding the film.

Youssef  is believed to have uploaded to YouTube a 14-minute trailer translated into Arabic for the crudely produced film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, despite not being allowed to use the Internet without permission from his probation officer. 

In the wake of the initial violence following the release of the trailer, two media outlets interviewed a California man who gave his name as Sam Bacile and reportedly said he had produced, directed and written "Innocence of Muslims," and that Jewish donors had bankrolled the production. But his claims, which included that he was an Israeli American in the real estate business, quickly came under scrutiny and were found to be untrue. It was later revealed that Bacile was Youssef. 

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