'Innocence of Muslims' filmmaker released from prison
Filmmaker behind anti-Islam movie that that sparked violence in the Middle East is sent to a halfway house after being checked for fraud.
Mark Basseley Youssef, 55, of Los Angeles, was released to a halfway house to serve the remaining weeks of his prison term. He was sentenced to prison last November for violating his probation in a 2010 check-kiting case.
Youssef will leave the halfway house on Sept. 26, but will be on probation for the next four years.
An Egyptian-born Coptic Christian also known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, Youssef is believed to have uploaded to YouTube a 14-minute trailer of “The Innocence of Muslims” translated into Arabic, despite not being allowed to use the Internet without permission from his probation officer.
The crudely produced film ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad touched off a torrent of anti-American demonstrations in Arab and Muslim countries. But links between the film and the assault on U.S. diplomatic posts in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, Christopher Stevens, were debunked.
In the wake of the initial violence following the release of the trailer, two media outlets interviewed a California man who gave his name as Sam Bacile and reportedly said he had produced, directed and written “The Innocence of Muslims,” and that Jewish donors had bankrolled the production.
But his claims, which included that he was an Israeli American in the real estate business, quickly came under scrutiny and were found to be untrue. It was later revealed that Bacile was Youssef.