Innocence of Muslims Director Sentenced to a Year in Prison

Mark Basseley Youssef claims his first amendment rights are being violated

Innocence of Muslims writer and director Mark Basseley Youssef is facing a year in prison, after being convicted on four counts of violating probation terms.

Youssef changed his name from Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, but has also been known to use aliases, such as Sam Basile. His passport was issued under one name, his driver's license under another, and he used a separate identity while working on the controversial film that sparked riots in the Middle East.

The Innocence of Muslims was dubbed insulting to the prophet Mohammad, and prompted protests that lead to the death of the American ambassador to Lybia.

The defendant not only used aliases, but lied to his probation officer, which is in violation of the terms of his release from prison, on 2010 charges. Youssef had been tried and convicted for bank and credit-card fraud, managing to get away with $800,000 (€630,000).

"This is not a defendant that you want out there using multiple names," Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert Dugdale says.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Youssef's attorney filed a motion, asking for his client to be allowed to serve his sentence in home confinement. His request was denied by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder, that noted he had acted in a deceptive manner.

The trial revealed that Youssef dubbed many scenes in the Innocence of Muslims, putting cast members at risk. Many complained to the probation office, having received death threats following their participation in the project, saying their voices were dubbed in many of the scenes. As the actors had signed releases, replacing their voices in the scenes was not illegal.

Defense attorney Steven Seiden argues that his client acted as nothing else but a script writer and "cultural consultant,” throughout the making of the movie, denying claims that he is the owner and director of the flick.

"In my opinion, the government used these proceedings to chill my client's first amendment rights,” Seiden says.

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