Anti-Islam Filmmaker Sentenced to One Year in Prison

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LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- The man behind the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" that sparked rioting around the world is headed to jail for a year, but not because of the film.

Mark Basseley Youssef admitted to four violations of his probation from an earlier case, including lying to his probation officer and using bogus names.

In exchange, prosecutors dropped four other counts, including allegations that he lied about his role in the film's production, which he claims was limited to writing the script.

Youssef was convicted in June 2010 on four counts, including bank fraud and identity theft under the name Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $794,700 in restitution.

He was released from prison in June 2011, according to federal records, and place on probation for five years.

As part of his probation, Nakoula, who later changed his name to Youssef, was ordered not to own or use devices with Internet access without approval from his probation officer.

Restrictions were also placed on his enlisting others to access the Internet for him.

Youssef was arrested in late September after a trailer for the controversial film was uploaded to YouTube and caused widespread outrage.

But prosecutors and the judge emphasized that the film's message had nothing to do with Youssef's probation violation and the prison sentence.

Nonetheless, Youssef's attorney, Steven Seiden, told reporters outside the court that his client was being punished for exercising his free speech.

Through Seiden, Youssef asked the judge for home confinement, but the U.S. Attorney objected, citing Youssef's record of fraud and deception.

"This is not a defendant that you want out there using multiple names," Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert Dugdale said.

He noted that Youssef has a passport under one name and a driver's license under another, and worked on the film under a third identity -- Sam Bacile.

Dugdale said the actors and actresses in Youssef's film were victimized when he dubbed the film with controversial dialogue that wasn't in the script.

Dozens of cast and crew members have said they were duped by Youssef and were shocked to see the final product.

The amateurish film portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, buffoon, ruthless killer and child molester.

Islam categorically forbids any depictions of Mohammed, and blasphemy is an incendiary taboo in the Muslim world.

Dugdale said some of the cast members contacted the probation office, saying that their careers were ruined and that they were receiving death threats.

Seiden countered that it was the right of any filmmaker to alter a film and that cast members had signed releases.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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