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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula Arrested On Probation Violation

Matt Pressberg |
September 27, 2012 | 5:28 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

"Innocence of Muslims" sparked protests around the world. (J-Yiu/Flickr)
"Innocence of Muslims" sparked protests around the world. (J-Yiu/Flickr)
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, producer of the internet video "Innocence of Muslims" under the pseudonym "Sam Bacile", was arrested Thursday at his home in Cerritos and taken to a bail hearing in Los Angeles after authorities alleged he had violated the terms of his probation.

As the Huffington Post reports, the terms of Nakoula's probation following a 2010 conviction for bank fraud banned him from using the Internet or computers for five years barring prior approval from his probation officer. According to a U.S. attorney's spokesman, Nakoula was arrested when federal probation officers concluded that he had violated this rule.

"Innocence of Muslims" was a low-budget anti-Islam internet video first posted to YouTube in July with absolutely no fanfare, but was seized upon by certain agitators on September 11, leading to aggressive protests against American installations in many parts of the Middle East and North Africa and a tragic terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

(Read more about the movie and watch the trailer here.)

Many critics from outside the United States questioned why the American government did not just ban the film, which is to be expected, as our First Amendment is hardly universal, and citizens of many Middle Eastern and North African countries find it hard to conceive of a government that does not tightly control messaging.

After initially asking Google (owner of YouTube) to take the video down (it denied on account of the video not violating its content standards),  President Obama has decided to defend the freedom to make such a film while attacking the odious content of this particular one. He made a robust defense of America's free speech principles and keeping blasphemy legal, saying there is no offensive comment that justifies violence.

Nakoula's probation violation may actually give the president an ideal political opportunity. By being able to bust him on a rules violation (and keep him safe from assassination, which would benefit nobody), the Obama administration can portray it as a gesture of goodwill to those seeking vengeance without appearing soft on free speech.


Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula here.

Reach Executive Producer Matt Pressberg here.



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