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US Authorities Question Man Allegedly Behind Anti-Islam Film

  • VOA News

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (C) is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California, September 15, 2012.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (C) is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California, September 15, 2012.

U.S. probation officials in California have questioned the man allegedly behind the controversial film that sparked violent protests in the Muslim world.

Sheriff's officials said Saturday that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was questioned in Cerritos near his home for possible probation violations stemming from a 2010 bank fraud conviction.

They say the terms of his probation include a five year ban on using computers or the Internet, without approval from a probation officer.

Police say Nakoula left his home voluntarily to be interviewed by federal authorities. Authorities say he was not arrested or detained.

The film, titled The Innocence of Muslims, sparked protests in regions including the Middle East, Africa and Asia because it mocked the Prophet Muhammad.

In an earlier interview with U.S.-government-funded Radio Sawa, the alleged director of the film said his fellow Arabs "have to learn to demonstrate peacefully." He said any allegation the U.S. government was involved in the making of the movie is "ridiculous" and that "America has nothing to do with the film."

Radio Sawa says the man refused to confirm his identity, but that a source who provided the contact information identified him as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

Several news organizations have linked the inflammatory film to Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Coptic Christian.

Initially, the film was said to have been produced by a man named Sam Bacile, who told news media he is Israeli-American. A consultant on the film confirmed the name "Sam Bacile" was a pseudonym. There is no record of the film or its producer in Hollywood reference sources.

The man believed to be Nakoula tells Radio Sawa he did not expect the film would cause such strong reactions from the Arab and Muslim world, saying the film's other producers "put my mind at ease." But he also says all the film's advisers were "foreigners who do not know anything about Arabs and have never visited Arab countries."

During a protest over the film outside the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Tuesday, armed militants killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. staff members.

Nakoula says he is saddened by the deaths, but that he does not regret making the film. Nakoula also rejected allegations made by some of the actors and crew members that they were tricked into making the movie.

When asked if he misled the actors and crew, he said "This is a producer’s right. He can put what he wants in the film without consulting the actors... my answer to them is that they do not belong to a professional association."

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