Anti-Islam Filmmaker Gets Prison for Violating Probation

The California man linked to the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video that sparked riots in the Middle East and North Africa admitted to violating the terms of his probation and was sent back to prison for a year.

U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder in Los Angeles yesterday sentenced Mark Basseley Youssef after he confessed to using a name other than his true legal one, which violated the terms of his supervised release following a 2010 conviction for bank fraud.

Youssef, as part of an agreement with prosecutors, admitted to four allegations, including falsely telling his probation officer that he hadn’t used the name Sam Bacile, the name attached to the YouTube account that posted the video. Snyder denied a request by Youssef’s lawyer, Steven Seiden, to sentence him to home confinement.

“This was a serious breach of the court’s trust,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said at yesterday’s hearing. “It is essential that people on supervised release are truthful with probation.”

Youssef, 55, was arrested Sept. 27 in Los Angeles and held without bail on allegations that he used false names and had lied to his probation officer about his part in making the 14- minute video, purportedly a trailer for a movie. A U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent, Youssef pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2010 and was sentenced to 21 months in prison.

Fictional Attack

The video 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.

Dugdale said Youssef deceived the actors and actresses who were in the video by hiding his true identity and by dubbing in the language that caused offense after they had filmed their scenes.

“They had no idea he was a recently released federal felon,” the prosecutor said. “They may have had second thoughts” if they had known.

Google Inc.’s YouTube blocked access to the clip in Egypt and Libya following protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo and an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three U.S. personnel.

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.

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