• Troubled anti-Islam Filmmaker to Appear Before Judge

    LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Cerritos-based filmmaker behind an anti-Islam film that sparked deadly protests in the Muslim world is scheduled to appear today at a probation-revocation hearing before a federal judge who will consider allegations that the defendant violated the conditions placed on him after he was convicted in a 2010 bank fraud case.

    Mark Basseley Youssef, 55, who previously used the name Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder early this afternoon at a hearing shrouded in tight security. As in a previous hearing in the case, the courtroom will be closed to the public, but reporters will be allowed to view the proceeding on video from a separate building.

    Youssef is facing eight allegations of violating his probation, including making false statements to probation officers and using at least three aliases. The terms of his 2011 release from prison in the fraud case do not allow him to use alternate identities without the authorization of his probation officer.

    A federal magistrate judge last month ordered Youssef held without bail, deeming him a flight risk and a danger to the community. “The court has a lack of trust in this defendant,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said.

    Before he was arrested, Youssef had been in hiding since violence erupted in response to a YouTube trailer for his film “Innocence of Muslims,” which portrayed the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and child abuser.

    Protests ignited by the video broke out last month first in Egypt, then Libya, then throughout the Muslim world, including Pakistan, and dozens were killed in the unrest.

    The video initially was blamed for an attack in Benghazi that killed Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans on Sept. 11, but U.S. government officials have since blamed their deaths on an act of terrorism on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror strikes.

    Youssef pleaded no contest in 2010 to bank fraud charges for using phony Social Security numbers to open bank and credit card accounts, according to court documents. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without prior authorization.

    During the court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said Youssef’s use of aliases is “part of a lengthy pattern of deception.”

    The prosecutor also said “there was real harm done in this case,” referring to the release of the “Innocence of Muslims” clip, but federal officials say Youssef was not arrested because of the film.

    Youssef’s attorney, Steve Seiden, has argued unsuccessfully for a $10,000 bail amount for his client.

    Federal probation officers have recommended that Youssef be sentenced to two years in prison, prosecutors said.

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