Anti-Islam Filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula Arrested on Probation Violation, Detained Without Bail
(LOS ANGELES) — The Southern California man who wrote and produced the controversial anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” was ordered detained without bail by a federal judge for allegedly violating the terms of his probation.
Citing a “lengthy pattern of deception,” Judge Suzanne Segal said that the court had a “lack of trust” in Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, and believed him to be a flight risk who posed “some danger to the community.”
Nakoula, 55, appeared remotely via video conference at the U.S. District Court preliminary hearing in Los Angeles. He had been asked to report to an office of the U.S. Probation Office, where U.S. Marshals officially arrested him.
Authorities have been investigating whether he violated the terms of his supervised release from a 2010 conviction in a bank fraud case.
Nakoula had met with federal probation officers on Sept. 14 about whether his involvement in the film violated the terms of his probation, which barred him from accessing the Internet without prior approval and from using any name other than his legal name.
The inflammatory film has been blamed for violent protests across the Middle East, including in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans died, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, when militants attacked U.S. diplomatic facilities there on Sept. 11.
Nakoula admitted his role in the film and sought help from law enforcement in dealing with death threats he had received since the film’s release, saying he was “scared to death” about the safety of himself and his family, authorities told ABC News.
Nakoula had originally used the pseudonym Sam Bacile, telling reporters he was an “Israeli Jew” and that the film had cost about $5,000,000, which came from wealthy Jewish friends.
But Nakoula, who is actually an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian, later told authorities that he and his son, Abanob Basseley, 21, were responsible for producing the movie. He reportedly said the film cost between $50,000 and $60,000 and was shot in a little over 12 days. Authorities say he claimed the money for the movie came from his wife’s family in Egypt.
Last week, Nakoula’s family members fled their home to join the filmmaker in hiding. Nakoula has not returned to his Cerritos, Calif., home since being interviewed Sept. 14 by federal probation officers about his role in the creation of the film.
Shortly before 4 a.m. on Sept. 17, officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department escorted members of Nakoula’s family, who had their faces covered, out of the house and into police vehicles so they could rejoin Nakoula at an undisclosed location.
“They decided they would be safer where they could move about and live a normal life,” said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department. “All we did was pick them up and reunite them with Mr. Nakoula.”
Whitmore said the family’s current whereabouts are unknown to him, and it was his understanding that they won’t ever return to their Cerritos house, though that decision was “entirely up to the family.”
“What we do know and what they told me is that for the time now and for the immediate future, for the weeks and months to come, they will not be returning to this address,” Whitmore said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio