Alleged anti-Islam filmmaker didn’t spark Muslim violence: lawyer
LOS ANGELES — A lawyer for the alleged filmmaker behind “Innocence of Muslims” denied Wednesday he was to blame for a wave of violence across the Middle East, as his client appeared in court for a second time.
Attorney Steven Seiden said US congressional hearings in Washington would shed more light on the cause of the violence, which killed a number of people including the US ambassador to Libya.
“My client was not the cause of the violence in the Middle East. Clearly it was pre-planned, that was just an excuse and a trigger point,” said the lawyer for Mark Basseley Youssef, 55.
“As you know, there (are) congressional hearings going on now as to the source of the real violence in the Middle East,” he said after the brief court hearing in Los Angeles.
When the violence erupted, “the press, the president, secretary of state were blaming my client for the violence in the Mideast, and then a week later we learned that it was all pre-planned attacks to coincide with 9/11.”
“We’ll see what they come up with, and we’ll see how that impacts his case,” he added in reference to Congress.
The film depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish deviant offended many Muslims, and sparked a wave of anti-US protests in a number of countries that cost several lives and saw mobs set US missions, schools and businesses ablaze.
On September 11, the anniversary of the Al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
Initially, US officials said that attack followed spontaneous protests against the anti-Islam film, which were occurring in other countries in the region.
But administration officials in Washington this week gave a detailed account of the attack, in which dozens of armed men invaded the consulate setting it on fire and hunting down staff.
Youssef — previously listed in court as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula — was arrested last month for eight breaches of his probation for a 2010 bank fraud conviction, and attended a preliminary probation-revocation hearing Wednesday before US District Judge Christina Snyder.
In February 2009, a federal indictment accused Nakoula and others of fraudulently obtaining the identities and Social Security numbers of customers at several Wells Fargo branches in California and withdrawing $860 from them.
At Wednesday’s hearing, held amid tight security in an almost empty court — media were allowed to watch events by video conference from a separate building — the judge read the eight probation violation charges against him.
Youssef, a balding Middle Eastern-looking man in a white top and glasses perched on his head, said the single word “Deny” to each of the accusations. He was mostly shielded from camera view by his lawyer, Seiden.
He was ordered kept in custody, and a new hearing was set for November 9.
“We’ve denied all the accusations today, a hearing date has been set, and we’ll let the matter work itself out in court,” said the lawyer afterwards.