Man behind 'Innocence of Muslims' denies violating his probation
Mark Basseley Youssef, the California man behind the inflammatory anti-Muslim film, made a court appearance Wednesday and denied having violated the terms of his probation.
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Youssef was convicted of bank fraud in 2010 and sentenced to 21 months in prison. Authorities said Youssef used more than a dozen aliases and opened about 60 bank accounts and had more than 600 credit and debit cards to conduct the check fraud scheme.Skip to next paragraph
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After Youssef was freed, he was barred from using computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer. He also wasn't supposed to use any name other than his true legal name without the prior written approval of his probation officer.
At least three names have been associated with Youssef since the film trailer surfaced — Sam Bacile, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Youssef. Bacile was the name attached to the YouTube account that posted the video
Court documents show Youssef legally changed his name from Nakoula in 2002, though when he was tried he identified himself as Nakoula. He wanted the name change because he believed Nakoula sounded like a girl's name, according to court documents.
Among the violations Youssef denied Wednesday were using "Nakoula" as his name throughout his bank fraud case, obtaining a fraudulent California driver's license and telling federal authorities that his role in the film was limited to writing the script. Prosecutors have previously said there is evidence showing Youssef had a larger role in the film, but they declined to elaborate.
Seiden explained that Youssef denied all allegations on procedural grounds.
"People go to court all the time and plead not guilty and then later on things transpire in the case as things are known," Seiden said when asked why his client denied he changed his name. "We'll see how this plays out on Nov. 9."
Prosecutors recently sought transcripts from a pair of 2009 hearings in the bank fraud case where Youssef told two judges that his true name was Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Legal experts said giving a false name to a judge could spell trouble for Youssef on the probation violation allegations and result in new charges since he made the statement about his name before he was sentenced.
"If he was under oath when he lied about his name, it's perjury," said Lawrence Rosenthal, a constitutional and criminal law professor at Chapman University School of Law. "If he was not under oath but if giving the false name somehow was going to interfere with the effective administration of justice," then it would also be a crime.