Nakoula Basseley Nakoula during his arrest in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
Los Angeles, Sept. 28 (Reuters): An Egyptian-American man behind an anti-Islam film that has stoked violent protests across the Muslim world was arrested today in California for allegedly violating his probation, and a federal judge ordered him jailed without bond.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was taken into custody at an undisclosed location by US marshals and brought to court in Los Angeles still wearing his street clothes but handcuffed and shackled at the waist.
Nakoula has been under investigation by probation officials looking into whether he violated the terms of his 2011 release from prison on a bank fraud conviction while making the film, though authorities have said they were not probing the movie itself.
“The court has a lack of trust in the defendant at this time,” US magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said in refusing Nakoula’s request for bail at a hearing in US district court.
His crudely made 13-minute video was filmed in California and circulated online under several titles including Innocence of Muslims.
The clip sparked a torrent of anti-American unrest in Egypt, Libya and dozens of other Muslim countries over the past two weeks. The violence coincided with an attack on US diplomatic facilities in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya.
Nakoula, under the terms of his release from jail, has been barred from accessing the Internet or using aliases without the permission of a probation officer, court records show. He now faces eight probation violation accusations.
In denying his request for bail, Segal called him a flight risk and said the Coptic Christian filmmaker who most recently lived in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos had “engaged in a lengthy pattern of deception”, including using several aliases.
Nakoula has stayed out of the public eye for much of the past two weeks. A lawyer for Nakoula expressed concern in court yesterday for his client’s safety and asked that the hearing be closed to the media.
Reporters were not allowed into the hearing but watched from a specially arranged viewing room a block away.