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Anti-Islam filmmaker arrested for violating probation on bank fraud conviction

September 27, 2012 (TSR) – A man linked to an anti-Islam video that sparked riots across the Muslim world has been held without bond after a hearing in Los Angeles, California.

A judge said Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was a flight risk and cited a pattern of deception when making his ruling, Reuters news agency reported.

Nakoula was investigated for violating probation terms after he was released from prison in 2011 for bank fraud.

He has not been detained over the contents of the inflammatory video.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula arrested without bond for violating probation on his bank fraud conviction

Nakoula, who allegedly produced the 14-minute trailer for the film Innocence of Muslims, was banned from accessing the internet or using an alias without an officer’s permission under the terms of his probation.

Earlier, the Obama administration had requested Google, the company that owns YouTube, to remove the clip. The technology firm refused, saying the film did not violate its rules.

The US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles confirmed Nakoula had been taken into custody earlier on Thursday.

“Mr Nakoula was arrested pursuant to allegations made by the Probation Office that he has violated the terms of his supervised release,” spokesman Thom Mrozek said.

He had been in hiding after the release of the video.

First amendment

A clip from the US-made film was dubbed into Arabic, provoking widespread anger for its disrespectful portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.

The film was made on a very low budget, with insults and offensive inferences to the Prophet Mohammad and Islam crudely dubbed on afterwards.

But it has not broken any laws in the US, where freedom of speech is enshrined in the constitution’s first amendment.

The clip was uploaded to YouTube in July, but violence broke out over the video on 11 September.

Four Americans, including US Ambassador Chris Stephens, were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya earlier this month.

Meanwhile, some of the actors in the video have come forward to say they were misled. They said had been hired to appear in a film called Desert Warriors, which did not mention Islam or the Prophet Muhammad in the script.

NO INTERNET, NO ALIASES

As a condition of his release, Nakoula, a Coptic Christian who most recently lived in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos, was barred from accessing the Internet or using aliases without the permission of a probation officer, court records show.

“The court has a lack of trust in the defendant at this time,” Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said in making the ruling, citing a pattern of deception and the possibility Nakoula was a flight risk.

Federal probation officers investigating whether Nakoula, who was brought into the court wearing street clothes with his hands in cuffs and shackled at his waist, violated the terms of his release while making the film.

Federal prosecutors have made eight allegations against Nakoula of violating the terms of his release, including lying to probation officers. Nakoula’s defense attorney had asked a federal judge in Los Angeles that he be given bond of $10,000.

BOUNTY FROM PAKISTAN

Nakoula has stayed out of the public eye for much of the past two weeks, amid outrage in Muslim countries over the film. Last week, Pakistani Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour offered $100,000 to anyone who kills the maker of the video.

The Pakistani prime minister’s office later distanced itself from the railways minister’s statement.

Nakoula’s attorney, Steve Seiden, said on Thursday he was “extremely concerned for (Nakoula’s) safety,” suggesting he might not be safe in federal prison in Los Angeles because of the presence of Muslim prisoners there.

Prosecutors countered that Nakoula would actually be safer in custody than on the outside.

Source: BBC, Yahoo/Reuters

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