'Innocence of Muslims' Filmmaker Fears Further Detainment After Completing Sentence
The man once accused of inciting 2012's terror attack in Libya fears that once his prison sentence for a probation violation ends, authorities may continue to detain him for his own "protection."
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the 55-year-old whose online short film “Innocence of Muslims” was falsely blamed by the Obama administration for setting off the attacks on the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11, spoke to Breitbart News over the phone about his current circumstances and what his plans are for the future.
“It is very bad, but I always remember that I am a little, little person from the dinosaurs," he states. "That’s why I cannot do nothing. I have tied hands. I have tied leg. I’m tied mouth. I’m tied tongue.
"I cannot do nothing. I am facing the dinosaurs,” Nakoula said of his hardships after being scapegoated almost one year ago by President Barack Obama, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.
The administration placed Nakoula in their sights days after the outbreak of violence spread across the Middle East and leaders from Arab nations pressured American officials to speak out and take action against the Egpytian-born Coptic Christian living in Southern California. Assailants killed four Americans during the attack: Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, two Navy SEALS, and consulate staffer Sean Smith.
Authorities investigated if Nakoula violated the terms of his probation after he was convicted for his involvement in a 2010 bank fraud case. According to ABC News, he met with his probation officer on September 14 to discuss if his work on the 13-minute movie teaser uploaded to a YouTube account would be considered a violation of his probation terms. Nakoula was banned from using the Internet without previous approval and from using any name other than his legal name.
He currently denies any role in putting the film online. “I never [uploaded] the video, not because of the law, but because I don’t have any idea about the computer and the Internet and all of this,” Nakoula said. “I didn’t. I didn’t. I did not, because I didn’t have [it].”
“The local police—[They told me] nothing—just that ‘we need to put you under protection. We need you to leave the home’ and everything is messed up,” he asserted.
On the same day, September 14, while Nakoula met with federal probation officers in southern California, Clinton and President Obama were at a receiving ceremony of the four bodies delivered from Benghazi.
Charles Woods, father of one of the Navy SEALS, said he was approached by Clinton, and she allegedly told him that Nakoula would be “arrested” and “prosecuted.”
“She came over… she talked with me," Mr. Woods stated. "I gave her a hug and shook her hand and she did not appear to be one bit sincere at all and she mentioned about, ‘We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.’” Woods declared, “That was the first time I even heard about anything like that.”
Nakoula described to Breitbart News the day he was arrested and formally charged in court for breaking the terms of his probation.
“I am a diabetic. On September 27, the probation officer asked me, ‘Can you come to the office?’"
He agreed but mentioned to his probation officer he had not had breakfast yet. “It’s okay,” Nakoula says his probation officer told him.
"I came [to meet her] without breakfast at 12:30 pm or one o'clock, and I arrived at her office." After meeting with his probation officer, authorities took him to the local detention center and to the courtroom. Nakoula says he still had not eaten.
“We finished [in the courtroom] around 6:30, seven o'clock [at night]. At eight ‘o clock they put me in the room with no food and I am a diabetic.” Nakoula told the officer in charge, “I am a diabetic and I’ve eaten nothing for the whole day.” Nakoula says he was told food was no longer being served.
“I said, ‘Please, I’m almost dying. I haven’t eaten anything since [yesterday].’” According to Nakoula, one of the prisoners across the hall in another room slipped him some candy via personnel at the southern California detention facility.
The administration’s campaign against the online video resonated around the country, even among local law enforcement. Nakoula described one incident when he went to the hospital with a lieutenant, assigned to guard him, after falling down in his lockup in California.
Nakoula claims he was treated badly at the hospital, particularly by the lieutenant assigned to him that day. Nakoula says the officer told others around the hospital that he caused the American deaths in Benghazi. “And he said bad words to me. He said, ‘This mother***er caused American deaths outside the United States. He did the movie and caused American deaths.’”
In early November 2012, Nakoula was sentenced to one year in prison stemming from a plea bargain struck by his lawyers and federal prosecutors. According to reports, he admitted to the court he had used other aliases—a violation of his probation order—and got a driver's license under a false name. He was not charged for using the Internet, however. The Huffington Post reported:
U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder accepted the plea agreement and immediately sentenced 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 the plea deal, which also included more probation time.
All parties agreed that 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 Youssef's lies about his identity have caused harm to others, including the film's cast and crew. Deadly violence related to the film broke out Sept. 11 and spread to many parts of the Middle East.
"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.
He said they have had death threats and feel their careers have been ruined.
Nakoula maintains his name changes were not intended to harm anyone but to protect family members abroad. In 2002, when he first thought of making his film, he says he legally changed his name through the court to Mark Bacile Youseff. Closer to the actual production of the film in 2009, Nakoula applied to change his name again and gave the application papers to his lawyer.
Nakoula says he made the 2009 name change out of fear again for his life and his family’s life. Soon after he dropped the paperwork off to his attorney, Nakoula was arrested on bank fraud charges in June 2009.
By his account, the 2009 name change was approved later in July, but he was unaware of its approval, as he was in prison at the time. Nakoula says he only realized it was approved when the attorney he filed the paperwork with told him in 2012.
No one in the U.S. Justice Department, State Department, or the Obama administration has ever contacted Nakoula personally. He claims to have sent two letters that went unanswered to Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama in March of this year.
“I told them please try to—I’d like to prove I’m a good citizen. Try to give me a chance to prove I am a good citizen. I have a lot of things to tell you about it. Don’t look at me as a little person. I did something stupid. I am not stupid. Maybe I’m not smart, but I’m not stupid.”
Financially broke and estranged from his family, Nakoula plans to release a 350-page book about his controversial movie and his thoughts on Hillary Clinton as compared to Henry Kissinger. He dedicates the book to the American men who lost their lives in Benghazi. "I dedicate this book for them and to every son who lost his father and mother who lost her son and anybody who was injured because of this terrorism culture," he said.
Nakoula’s release from his current facility will happen in late September, but he remains concerned the government may keep him there longer.
“It’s supposed to be in September if the government approves it, because I’m sure they can say now, ‘For your protection stay like that. For your protection, don’t go out.' If any surprise happens, that’s why I feel something could happen, but I don’t know what it is,” he said.
"I lost my family. I lost my kid. I lost my wife. I don’t have no one with me at all," he added. "Everybody left me. That’s why when I go from here, I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know."