Anti-Islam filmmaker jailed on probation violation | News | DW | 08.11.2012
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Anti-Islam filmmaker jailed on probation violation

The man who made a controversial anti-Islam film that sparked protests across the Muslim world has been sent back to jail for probation violations. His lawyer argues the sentence is punishment for making the film.

Mark Basseley Youssef admitted to using aliases and lying to his probation officer, therefore breaching the terms of his probation granted earlier this year after serving time for bank fraud.

Along with his one-year sentence, US District Judge Christina Snyder on Wednesday ordered Youssef to be placed on four years of supervised release after he leaves prison.

In at least one violation, Youssef confessed to using the alias Sam Bacile, the name several actors and others involved in the film said he had used while producing the video. It was circulated under several titles, once of which was "Innocence of Muslims."

He was originally sentenced to 21 months in jail and ordered not to use computers or the internet for five years without authorization. He was also banned from using fictitious names during his release.

Youssef, an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, has been in custody since his arrest in September, his lawyer said.

Widespread controversy

A 13-minute clip of the film, published online under a number of different names including "Innocence of Muslims," depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a sexual deviant and fool.

The film partly spurred a series of anti-American protests in a number of Muslim countries. It was linked to an attack on the US embassy in Libya which killed four Americans, including the country's ambassador.

Cast and crew members of the film said some of their lines spoken in the film were dubbed over, and that they'd been duped into it by agreeing to a different movie entirely.

Assistant US Attorney Robert Dugdale said some of the cast members had received death threats and feared for their lives.

Defense lawyer Steven Seiden told reporters after the hearing that the government was using the case to punish Youssef for the film, and that it impeded his client's constitutional rights to freedom and expression.

"This hearing had everything to do with the movie," said Seiden.

Youssef was previously convicted of fraudulently obtaining 641 credit and debit cards and 60 bank accounts, defrauding banks of $800,000, Dugdale said.

dr/jr (Reuters, AFP, dpa)