Published November 28, 2015
A federal judge on Thursday ordered a California man behind a crudely produced anti-Islamic video that inflamed parts of the Middle East to be detained because he is a flight risk.
U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said Nakoula Basseley Nakoula should be held after officials said he violated his probation term for a 2010 check fraud conviction.
A federal prosecutor said Nakoula had eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases.
After his 2010 conviction, 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.
A 14-minute trailer for the film "Innocence of Muslims" was posted on YouTube in July, leading to protests around the Middle East. The trailer depicts Muhammad as a womanizer, religious fraud and child molester.
The violence broke out Sept. 11 and has spread since, killing dozens. Nakoula, a Christian originally from Egypt, went into hiding after he was identified as the man behind the trailer.
In court Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said Nakoula was flight risk based on a "lengthy pattern of deception."
"He has every incentive to disappear," Dugdale said.
Nakoula, 55, was handcuffed and shackled in court.
The full story about Nakoula and the video still isn't known.
The movie was made last year by a man who called himself Sam Bacile. After the violence erupted, a man who identified himself as Bacile called media outlets including The Associated Press, took credit for the film and said it was meant to portray the truth about Muhammad and Islam, which he called a cancer.
The next day, the AP determined there was no Bacile and linked the identity to Nakoula, a former gas station owner with a drug conviction and a history of using aliases. Federal authorities later confirmed there was no Bacile and that Nakoula was behind the movie.
Before going into hiding, Nakoula acknowledged to the AP he was involved with the film, but said he only worked on logistics and management.
A film permit listed Media for Christ, a Los Angeles-area charity run by other Egyptian Christians, as the production company. Most of the film was made at the charity's headquarters. Steve Klein, an insurance agent in Hemet and outspoken Muslim critic, has said he was a consultant and promoter for the film.
The trailer still can be found on YouTube. The Obama administration asked Google, YouTube's parent, to take down the video. But the company has refused, saying it did not violate its content standards.
Meanwhile, a number of actors and workers on the film have come forward to say they were tricked. They say they were hired for a film titled "Desert Warrior" and there was no mention of Islam or Muhammad in the script. Those references were dubbed in after filming was completed.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia has sued to get the trailer taken down, saying she was duped.