Man Linked to Anti-Muslim Film Denies Lying About His Role

The California man linked to “Innocence of Muslims,” a 14-minute YouTube trailer that sparked riots across the Middle East and North Africa, denied lying to his probation officer about his role in the film.

Mark Basseley Youssef, who formerly was called Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, appeared at a hearing today in federal court in Los Angeles for preliminary revocation of his supervised release. He denied under oath having used a name other than his true legal name and having lied to his probation officer last month about his part in creating the movie.

U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder, who had sentenced Youssef in 2010, scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the probation office’s allegation for Nov. 9.

“Deny,” Youssef, handcuffed and dressed in white prison clothes, said in response to the judge’s questions about the specific allegations. One claim was that he falsely told his probation officer on Sept. 15 that his role in making “Innocence of Muslims” was limited to writing the script. He was also accused of using the name Sam Bacile.

Youssef, 55, was surrounded by as many as five federal security people at the hearing. He was arrested Sept. 27 in Los Angeles and held without bail. The judge declined to rule on a request by his lawyer, Steven Seider, to have Youssef taken out of protective custody and placed with the general prison population.

Internet Use

A U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent, Youssef pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2010 and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. Under the terms of his probation after he was released, he isn’t allowed to use a false name or use the Internet without permission from his probation officer.

The film trailer shows a fictional attack by Muslims on a Christian family, followed by an account of the origins of Islam depicting the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer. Google Inc. (GOOG)’s YouTube blocked access to the clip in Egypt and Libya following attacks on the U.S. missions in those countries. The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three U.S. personnel were killed last month.

Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress in the movie trailer, sued Youssef, claiming he used the name Sam Bacile and misled her about the content of the film to get her participation.

Garcia said in a complaint filed Sept. 19 in California state court in Los Angeles that she was cast in a film titled “Desert Warrior” and that filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who used the name Sam Bacile, told her that it was an adventure film about ancient Egyptians. There was no mention of Muhammad or reference to religion, according to the actress’s complaint.

Youssef changed his legal name from Nakoula in 2002 and continued to use a driver’s license with his old name, according to the probation office’s allegations. Nakoula was also the name listed for him in the criminal case against him in 2009.

The case is USA v. Youssef, 09-cr-00617, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.