Nakoula Basseley Nakoula – AKA 'Sam Basile' – questioned in anti-Islam video (+video)
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been questioned regarding the 'Innocence of Muslims' YouTube video that sparked violent protests around the world. But it's probation violations for earlier convictions on bank fraud and methamphetamine charges that could put him back behind bars.
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His no contest plea was to charges of setting up fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities and Social Security numbers, depositing checks from those accounts into other phony accounts and then withdrawing the illicit funds from ATM machines, according to the AP. While it was unclear what might have provoked authorities' interest, the filmmaker's use of a false identity and his access to the Internet through computers could be at issue, according to experts in cyber law and the federal probation system.Skip to next paragraph
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In addition to the fraud conviction, Nakoula pleaded guilty in 1997 to possession with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, for which he received a one-year jail sentence.
Although “Sam Basile” first was identified as an “Israeli-Jew,” Nakoula reportedly is a Coptic Christian. Coptic Christian church leaders professed shock at the news, and some actors in the video said they had been duped into taking part in a venture linked to deaths in Libya and elsewhere.
Before he was taken away to be interviewed, Nakoula’s home was the site of a press stakeout, some reporters noticing similarities between the house and scenes in the video.
“The door bears a striking resemblance to the front door in one of the early scenes in the video,” the New York Times reported. “The inside of the home, viewed through a window in the door, also suggests similarities to the locations where that scene was filmed: the chandeliers and layout seem to be the same.”
"We've restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt, given the very sensitive situations in these two countries," Google said in a statement. "This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007."
“At Google we have a bias in favor of people's right to free expression in everything we do,” Rachel Whetstone, Google’s director of global communications and public affairs at the time wrote in a 2007 blog post.
“But it's not only legal considerations that drive our policies,” Ms. Whetstone wrote. “One type of content, while legal everywhere, may be almost universally unacceptable in one region yet viewed as perfectly fine in another. We are passionate about our users so we try to take into account local cultures and needs – which vary dramatically around the world – when developing and implementing our global product policies.”
For now, that means the video remains accessible in much of the world.
Meanwhile, the convoluted story behind the offensive video took another strange twist Saturday.
The website Gawker reported that “the anti-Islam film that's set off a firestorm in the Middle East was directed by a 65-year-old schlock director named Alan Roberts…. the creative vision behind softcore porn classics like The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood.”
But Gawker also noted that “Alan Roberts” is not the director’s real name.