Los Angeles: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the alleged filmmaker behind the video that sparked protests across the Muslim world, was arrested Thursday, the Los Angeles district attorney’s office said.
The alleged director or producer of “Innocence of Muslims” was ordered to appear in court in downtown LA, reportedly for a probation violation, local media reported.
“I can confirm he’s in custody, scheduled to make a court appearance as we speak, in federal court in downtown LA,” Thom Mrozek of the US Attorney’s Office told AFP, giving no further details.
The exact nature of the court appearance is unclear, because the federal court documents have been sealed. Officials have been investigating whether Nakoula may have violated probation terms for a previous offense.
The US District Court for the central District of California said people who wanted to could view the hearing via a video-conference system from a nearby courtroom.
Concerns have been raised for Nakoula’s safety due to the widespread anger his alleged video has provoked among Muslims. He went into hiding shortly after the protests erupted.
Nakoula — allegedly the real identity behind the pseudonym Sam Bacile, listed as the director of “Innocence of Muslims” — was briefly taken into custody earlier this month for questioning by his probation officer.
He was traced to a home address in Cerritos, south of Los Angeles, after international protests erupted against the 14-minute trailer video posted online.
The film depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish deviant offended many Muslims, and sparked a wave of anti-American protests that have cost several lives and saw mobs set US missions, schools and businesses ablaze.
In February 2009, a federal indictment accused Nakoula and others of fraudulently obtaining the identities and Social Security numbers of customers at several Wells Fargo branches in California and withdrawing $860 from them.
Nakoula’s court appearance came a day after an actress involved in the video, Cindy Lee Garcia, filed a second lawsuit seeking to force YouTube and Google to pull the video trailer.
Garcia filed legal action in Los Angeles Superior Court last week, but a judge rejected it — and on Wednesday, she filed a new suit alleging breach of copyright in federal court in Santa Clarita, California.
The actress says she had believed to have signed up for a film called “Desert Warrior” set 2,000 years ago, and only realized her lines had been over-dubbed when the row with Muslim protests erupted this month.
In her initial lawsuit, Garcia alleged she has suffered severe emotional distress, financial setbacks and the “destruction of her career and reputation.”
But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin denied her request for a restraining order to prevent YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, from continuing to show the film clips.
The English version of the trailer, which has been withdrawn from YouTube in a number of countries, includes blatantly overdubbed parts of dialogue, and Mohammed’s name seems to have been added in post-production.
Garcia said she only saw four pages of script for the two days she spent on set, and had no idea about the movie’s religious content. “No one spoke of the Muslim faith, no one spoke of Mohammed. Nor would I do that,” she said.