Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Film-maker detained as flight risk

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is escorted by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies from his home in Cerritos, California (AP/CBS2-KCAL9)

The man behind the anti-Islamic video that inflamed parts of the Middle East is a flight risk and must be detained, a judge in California has said.

Citing a lengthy pattern of deception, US Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said Nakoula Basseley Nakoula should be held in custody after officials said he broke his probation from a 2010 cheque fraud conviction.

"The court has a lack of trust in this defendant at this time," Judge Segal said.

Nakoula, 55, had eight probation breaches, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases. He might also face new charges that carry a maximum two-year prison term, authorities said.

After his fraud conviction for which 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.

Nakoula was arrested after US probation officials determined he broke the terms of his supervised release, said the US Attorney's spokesman in Los Angeles, Thomas Mrozek.

In court on Friday, assistant US attorney Robert Dugdale said Nakoula was a flight risk, partially because of the uproar over the film. "He has every incentive to disappear," Mr Dugdale said.

Balding Nakoula was handcuffed and shackled in court.

The hearing had an unusual wrinkle as the news media was banned from the courtroom where Nakoula was appearing and reporters had to watch the proceedings on a TV in a different courthouse a couple of streets away. Court officials did not give a reason for the decision.

Nakoula, a Christian originally from Egypt, went into hiding after he was identified as the man behind the trailer. The full story about Nakoula and the video still is not known.