Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Anti-Muslim film man denies breach

The man behind an anti-Muslim film that sparked widespread violence in the Middle East has denied violating his probation stemming from a 2010 bank fraud conviction.

US district judge Christina Snyder scheduled an evidentiary hearing for November 9 for Mark Basseley Youssef.

Youssef, 55, has been in a federal detention centre since September 28 after he was arrested for eight probation violations and deemed a flight risk by another judge. Prosecutors said Youssef lied to his probation officers about his real name and used aliases.

Youssef fled his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos and went into hiding when violence erupted in Egypt on September 11 over a 14-minute trailer of Innocence Of Muslims posted on YouTube. The trailer depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a religious fraud, womaniser and paedophile.

The violence spread, killing dozens, and enraged Muslims have demanded severe punishment for Youssef, with a Pakistani cabinet minister offering 100,000 US dollars (£62,000) to anyone who kills him.

Federal authorities have stressed that Youssef was taken into custody for probation violations and not because of the content of the film, which is protected by the first amendment of the US constitution.

Youssef, a Christian originally from Egypt, was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 21 months in prison. After he was freed, he was barred from using computers or the internet for five years without approval from his probation officer. He was also banned from using any name other than his true legal name without the prior written approval of his probation officer.

At least three names have been associated with Youssef since the film trailer surfaced - Sam Bacile, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Youssef. Bacile was the name attached to the YouTube account that posted the video.

Court documents show Youssef legally changed his name from Nakoula in 2002, but he never told federal authorities while he was being prosecuted for cheque fraud. Orange County Superior Court documents show he wanted the change because he believed Nakoula sounded like a girl's name. Youssef sought a passport in his new name but still had a California driving licence as Nakoula, authorities said.

Authorities said Youssef used more than a dozen aliases and opened about 60 bank accounts and had more than 600 credit and debit cards to conduct the cheque fraud scheme.


From Belfast Telegraph