Key figure in anti-Muslim movie taken in for questioning
(JTA) — An Egyptian Christian man who police say is one of the key figure behind the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” was taken in for questioning. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was questioned near Los Angeles after being brought in Saturday morning by federal probation officers, The New York Times reported, but he was not placed under arrest.
Police reportedly may be investigating whether Nakoula uploaded the 14-minute movie trailer, translated into Arabic, to YouTube. Under the terms of his sentencing in a conviction in a 2010 check-kiting case, he is not allowed to use the Internet without permission from his probation officer.
The trailer for the crudely produced film ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad has been cited as the reason for the outbreak of violence at U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East and throughout the world. Four American diplomats have died in the violence.
In the wake of the initial violence, two media outlets interviewed a California man who gave his name as Sam Bacile and reportedly said he had produced, directed and written “Innocence of Muslims.” But his claims quickly came under scrutiny and apparently are untrue.
Members of the film’s cast, who said they were misled about its true message, said the film’s producer was Egyptian.
In 2010, Nakoula pleaded no contest to federal bank fraud charges and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution, the AP reported. The report cited federal court papers saying that Nakoula had used the name Nicola Bacily, among other aliases.