Criminal Justice

Anti-Islamic Filmmaker Sentenced to 1 Year for Unrelated Probation Violation


Mark Basseley Yousseff, the Californian whose film Innocence of Muslims sparked protests throughout the Middle East, was sentenced to a year in federal prison Wednesday, for probation violations on an unrelated matter.

According to the Associated Press, Yousseff’s prior conviction involves bank fraud. He served a 21-month sentence for using more than 12 aliases, and opening approximately 60 bank accounts for an alleged check fraud scheme.

Prosecutors initially sought a two-year sentence for Yousseff regarding his probation violation. As part of a plea deal, the parties agreed that the violations were not related to content from the film.

In court Wednesday, Yousseff admitted to using false names, which violated his probation agreement, and getting a driver’s license under a false name.

Three false names have been associated with Youssef, the AP reports. One, Sam Bacile, was attached to a YouTube account that posted a trailer of the film. The federal government has said they think Youssef is responsible for the film, according to the AP, but have not said if he posted it online.

Steven Seiden, Yousseff”s lawyer, delivered a message from his client after the hearing.

“The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn’t kill the ideology,” he told reporters. They asked what that meant.

“I didn’t ask him, and I don’t know,” Seiden replied.

According to Seiden, the AP reports, Yousseff admits he was the film’s scriptwriter and its “cultural adviser,” but denied other involvement.

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