Calif. Man Behind Anti-Muslim Film Gets Prison
The California man behind an anti-Muslim film that roiled the Middle East was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison for violating his probation stemming from a 2010 bank fraud conviction by lying about his identity.
U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder immediately sentenced Mark Basseley Youssef after he admitted to four of the eight alleged violations, including obtaining a fraudulent California driver’s license. Prosecutors agreed to drop the other four allegations under an agreement with Youssef’s attorneys, which also included more probation.
None of the violations had to do with the content of “Innocence of Muslims,” a film that depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile and womanizer.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale argued Youseff’s lies about his identity have caused harm to others, including the film’s cast and crew. The movie sparked violence in the Middle East, killing dozens.
“They had no idea he was a recently released felon,” Dugdale said Wednesday. “Had they known that, they might have had second thoughts” about being part of the film.
Youssef’s attorney Steven Seiden said his client admits to being the film’s scriptwriter but had no other involvement except what he described as being a “cultural adviser.”