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Purported anti-Muslim film producer ordered jailed in probation case

A judge will decide whether or not Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the producer behind the 'Innocence of Muslims' film, violated the terms of his 2010 conviction on bank fraud charges. NBC's Savannah Guthrie reports.

Updated at 12:26 a.m. ET: A federal judge on Thursday determined a California man behind a crudely produced anti-Islamic video that inflamed parts of the Middle East is a flight risk and ordered him detained.

The judge ordered Nakoula Basseley Nakoula to remain in custody until a hearing to determine whether he violated the terms of his probation, stemming from a conviction on federal fraud charges, NBC News reported.

"The court has a lack of trust in the defendant at this time," Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said in making the ruling, citing a pattern of deception and the possibility Nakoula was a flight risk.


He had eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases, and he might face new charges that carry a maximum two-year prison term, authorities said. Nakoula will remain behind bars until another hearing where a judge will rule if he broke the terms of his probation.

Court records show that Nakoula was convicted on federal fraud charges in Los Angeles in 2010. Among the conditions of his probation, Nakoula was barred from using "any online service at any location" without the prior approval of his probation officer, according to a copy of court records in the case.

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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.

Violence broke out Sept. 11 and has spread since, killing dozens, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya. Nakoula went into hiding after he was identified as the man behind the trailer, the Associated Press reported.

Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

Protests ignited by a controversial film that ridicules Islam's Prophet Muhammad spread throughout Muslim world.

Earlier this month, federal law enforcement officials opened an investigation into whether Nakoula violated his probation on those fraud charges in his efforts to promote the movie, an official told NBC News.

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The official emphasized that the probe of Nakoula relates only to whether he violated his probation order — not into the content of the inflammatory movie. "This is not an investigation of the film," the official said, or in any way intended to infringe on his "First Amendment rights."

A self-described Coptic Christian who was born in Egypt, Nakoula is said to go by the pseudonym Sam Bassiel. That moniker that caused widespread confusion when the film was first released earlier this month when someone associated with the film said that the producer was an Israeli Jew with that name.

Suspected anti-Islam filmmaker questioned 

Others have disputed that the video was the cause of the violence in Libya. On Wednesday, Libyan President Mohammed Magarief told NBC News' Ann Curry that the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya there were carefully planned terrorist events, not the actions of a mob angry about the video.

In an interview with NBC's Ann Curry, Libya's president Mohammed Magarief said there's 'no doubt' the attack that killed four Americans in Libya was preplanned, and not a result of the controversial anti-Islam movie that sparked violent protests.

NBC Los Angeles, NBC News' Olivia Santini, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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