The alleged maker of a provocative anti-Islamic movie that has sparked violent protests across the Muslim world was briefly taken early on Saturday to a California police station for questioning by his probation officer.
Nakoula Besseley Nakoula was “given a ride” by sheriff’s deputies from his Cerritos, California, home shortly after midnight to the interview, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Don Walker told AFP.
A local NBC News affiliate reported that the man later emerged from the station wearing a coat, hat, scarf and glasses.
Officials said federal officers wanted to find out whether Nakoula had violated his probation in an alleged bank fraud conspiracy.
But according to Walker, the questioning of Nakoula did not take long. “He left the area a while ago,” the spokesman said.
There was no word what conclusion, if any, the probation office had reached during the interview.
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.
Given the relatively small amount of money involved, he was put on probation as a result.
Nakoula also served a year in jail after pleading guilty to possession of meth with the intent to manufacture it in 1997.
Nakoula had agreed to the interview prior to the deputies arriving at his home and that the move was “entirely voluntary,” NBC News reported.
The film depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish deviant offended many Muslims, and sparked a wave of anti-American protests that have cost several lives and saw mobs burn US missions, schools and businesses.
At least six protesters died in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Sudan on Friday as local police battled to defend US missions from mobs of stone-throwers, and Washington deployed Marines to protect its embassies in Libya and Yemen.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the anti-Islamic film, stressing that the US government had nothing to do with it.
“To us, to me, personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose, to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage,” Clinton said, calling on all government and religious leaders to draw the line at violence.