CNN, LA TIMES, ABC NEWS, NY TIMES (USA)
LOS ANGELES – The filmmaker behind the anti-Islamic video that has sparked violence across the globe was arrested on suspicion of violating the terms of his probation, including allegedly lying about his role in the film's production, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Federal Judge Suzanne H. Segal ordered Nakoula Basseley Nakoula detained without bail, citing a "lengthy pattern of deception" by the man, adding that he was a flight risk who posed "some danger to the community." Nakoula could face up to three years behind bars.
Nakoula, 55, appeared at the U.S. District Court preliminary hearing in Los Angeles, reports ABC News. He had been asked to report to an office of the U.S. Probation Office, where U.S. Marshals officially arrested him.
Authorities have been investigating whether he violated the terms of his supervised release from a 2010 conviction in a bank fraud case.
Nakoula served about a year of a 21-month prison term for orchestrating a check-kiting scheme against Wells Fargo Bank, reports the New York Times.
As part of his sentence, he was ordered to pay restitution of $794,700.
The bank fraud scheme included a twist that is probably pertinent to the current investigation: he committed the crime using a variety of aliases.
One of the conditions of his release was that he couldn't use computers or the Internet without approval from his probation officer. But Nakoula flagrantly violated those terms when he posted a trailer of his crude and inflammatory “Innocence of Muslims” film on YouTube, federal prosecutors said.
In all, Nakoula committed eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases, a prosecutor said.
When news of his movie first broke, reports CNN, the filmmaker identified himself as Sam Bacile and told the Wall Street Journal that he was a 52-year-old Israeli-American real estate developer from California. He said Jewish donors had financed his film.
But Israel's Foreign Ministry said there was no record of a Sam Bacile with Israeli citizenship.
Nakula will remain in jail until a probation-revocation hearing is scheduled. He has not spoken publicly since the trailer, parts of which were broadcast on Egyptian television, first set off a wave of rioting and attacks that led to the death of four Americans in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador.
Nakoula’s lawyer, Steve Seiden, had argued unsuccessfully that it was a dangerous for his client to be in jail where there are, presumably, Muslim inmates. “My client’s safety has been an issue for weeks,” he said.