Innocence of Muslims Filmmaker Headed to Prison

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 8 2012 10:46 AM

Innocence of Muslims Filmmaker Headed to Prison

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Indian Muslim children hold anti-U.S. placards as they protest the film Innocence of Muslims in Kolkata on Oct. 5, 2012

Photograph by Dibyangshu Sakarar/AFP/Getty Images.

The man behind Innocence of Muslims, the online film/trailer that was widely blamed for many of the protests across the Middle East on and around Sept. 11, 2012, has been sentenced in California to a year in prison for violating the terms of his probation.

Mark Basseley Youssef was on probation after a 2010 conviction for bank fraud. In court, he admitted to four of the eight violations he was accused of committing, including using fake names and lying to his probation officer. Prosecutors have agreed to drop the other four violations after negotiations with Youssef's attorney, and not to pursue further charges related to his statements to parole officers. The deal includes four years of probation in addition to the one year in jail, the Associated Press explains.

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While both Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale and U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder were careful to emphasize that Youssef's presence in the court room was not because of the content of the film, his attorney argued otherwise. 

Youssef's attorney Steven Seiden said that the court proceedings were designed to "chill my client's First Amendment rights," according to the Los Angeles Times. Through Sieden, Youssef himself had this to say: "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." Seiden was unable to provide further clarification of that statement's relevance to the case to the AP.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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