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By Brooks Barnes ("The New York Times," November 7, 2012) Extracted from http://wwrn.org/articles/38534/
Los Angles — A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the man behind “Innocence of Muslims,” the anti-Islam YouTube video that ignited bloody protests in the Muslim world, to one year in prison for violating parole.
The man, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is also known as Mark Basseley Youssef, a name he legally adopted in 2002, appeared in Federal District Court here and pleaded guilty to four charges of violating a probation sentence imposed on him in 2010 after a bank fraud conviction. Each of his guilty pleas, worked out with prosecutors in advance, was related to his maintenance of the two identities.
In turn, the government agreed to drop four more probation violation charges, all of which pertained to Mr. Nakoula’s work on the “Innocence of Muslims.” Prosecutors had maintained that Mr. Nakoula lied to the police about the extent of his involvement in the project.
In accordance with the sentencing request by Robert Dugdale, the assistant United States attorney who prosecuted the case, Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled that Mr. Nakoula would serve one year in prison followed by four years of probation. She rejected a request for home confinement in lieu of prison from Mr. Nakoula’s lawyer, Steve Seiden, telling Mr. Nakoula that he had already “struck a deal far more favorable than he might have otherwise suffered.”
Although Mr. Dugdale did not pursue the probation violation charges that were directly related to “Innocence of Muslims,” he spoke about Mr. Nakoula’s film project — and the deceitful manner in which he carried it out — as part of his sentencing argument.
Mr. Dugdale said Mr. Nakoula had used the alias Sam Bacile, among others, to make the movie and had tricked the cast into thinking it was making a sword-and-sandal epic about a murderous tribal leader named George. Later, using crude dubbing techniques, Mr. Nakoula secretly turned that character into the Prophet Muhammad, Mr. Dugdale said. “That’s a substantial fraud,” Mr. Dugdale said.
It was the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty thug that sparked violence from Egypt to Pakistan in September. Cast members, at least one of whom is now suing Mr. Nakoula, have received death threats and are having trouble finding work as a result of his dubbing, Mr. Dugdale said.
“His deception actually caused real harm to people,” he said.
Reporters were barred from the courtroom but were allowed to watch the proceedings on three video monitors from a separate court facility. Seen on the video monitors, Mr. Nakoula, wearing his white protective custody prison smock, sat slouched between Mr. Seiden and an Arabic interpreter.
Judge Snyder noted at the start of the hearing that Mr. Nakoula had recently sent her a letter in Arabic but that she had not read it because she had been looking for the “appropriate procedure to fund a translator.” Asked if he would like to speak about the contents of the letter in court, Mr. Nakoula declined.
Mr. Nakoula was arrested in September and was ordered held without bail. Out of concern for his safety, he has been kept in protective custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center here. A string of Muslim religious leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan have offered bounties for the killing of the film’s maker.