By Associated Press / Published Sept. 15, 2012
A Southern California filmmaker linked to an anti-Islamic movie inflaming protests across the Middle East was interviewed by federal probation officers at a Los Angeles sheriff’s station but was not arrested or detained, authorities said early Saturday.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was interviewed at the station in his hometown of Cerritos, Calif., said Don Walker, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy.
Federal officials are investigating whether Nakoula, who has been convicted of financial crimes, has violated the terms of his five-year probation. If so, a judge could send him back to prison.
Nakoula went voluntarily to the station early Saturday morning, wearing a coat, hat, scarf and glasses that concealed his appearance. It is unclear whether he returned to his home, which has been besieged by media for several days.
The probation department is reviewing the case of Nakoula, who pleaded no contest to bank fraud charges in 2010 and was banned from using computers or the Internet or using false identities as part of his sentence.
Federal authorities have identified Nakoula, a self-described Coptic Christian, as the key figure behind “Innocence of Muslims,” a film denigrating Islam and the Prophet Muhammad that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Middle East.
Much of the film was shot inside the offices of Media for Christ, a nonprofit based in the Los Angeles-area city of Duarte. The charity raised more than $1 million last year “to glow Jesus’ light” to the world.
The Riverside County man who was a script advisor to the film and who has a long history of anti-Islamic activism told the Press-Enterprise newspaper that he has received multiple death threats.
“I’m really tired,” Steven Klein said when he answered the door of his home in Hemet, Calif., Friday with a pistol in his hand and clad only in a pair of white shorts stained with what appeared to be ink spots.
The newspaper said Klein, a Vietnam veteran, appeared agitated. While waving the gun, he told the newspaper he was standing up for his First Amendment rights in helping with the film and said he is prepared to die for those rights.
A federal law enforcement official said authorities had connected Nakoula to a man using the pseudonym of Sam Bacile who claimed earlier to be writer and director of the film.
Violent protests set off by the film in Libya played a role in mob attacks in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American officials. Demonstrations against American missions have since spread to several other countries.
Part of the low-budget film can be found on YouTube.
John Lawrence says
Anything defamatory of Muhammed is likely to cause violent outbursts around the world. Why aren’t these activities being tracked by our terrorist monitoring intelligence agencies? This one stupid video has been responsible for much death and destruction around the world. To defend it in the name of Free Speech is ludicrous.
An American’s rights are not restrained by the potential reaction of some ignorant religious nutjobs on the other side of the planet. Making a movie, even it does insult “the prophet” is not an act of terrorism, and the video is not responsible for anything. The aforementioned ignorant religious nutjobs are.
The problem is that no law was broken by making it. If Nakoula violated is probation by simply using a computer and being on the internet that’s a separate issue.
Isis moonheart says
Yes, we have free speech here in America, but not the right to inflict it upon other countries. These people should be held accountable for the deaths and heartache they have caused in the name of crist? I am a native american no one asked us if we wanted to infringe upon another countries beliefs.
The video was made here, so he didn’t infringe on anyone. It’s not a right for people half way around the world for us in this country not to say things because it offends them, any more so than for them to not say things because it offends us. I’ll go so far as to say that I believe Nakoula knew it was going to seriously rattle some chains and he’s a complete bigot, but he didn’t violate any laws making it (beyond violating of probation of using the internet, but again that’s a whole other matter).