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'Innocence of Muslims' filmmaker is scheduled for release Thursday

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the one of the filmmakers behind the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" that sparked rioting across the globe, is scheduled to be released from federal custody Thursday.

Nakoula, 56, was sentenced in November to a year behind bars after admitting to violating terms of his release from a 2010 conviction on bank and credit card fraud.

In late May, he was transferred to a halfway house, said Ed Ross of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The jailing of Nakoula raised questions about whether the U.S. government was acting in response to the international furor the movie caused.

Authorities said he violated the terms of his probation through his actions surrounding the film's production. News of his arrest and detention was widely covered around the world.

Some legal experts said the government was on firm legal footing and had little choice but to enforce the terms of Nakoula's probation once he came onto their radar.

But others question whether Nakoula's notoriety — and the global political fallout over the contents of the film — placed more scrutiny on the filmmaker and prompted federal officials to be harsh with him.

Government officials maintained that Nakoula was back in custody not because of the movie, which portrays the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a child molester, but because he had used aliases in producing the film and lied to probation officers.

Times staff writers Victoria Kim, Abby Sewell and Jessica Garrison contributed to this report.


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