Maker of an anti-Islam film interviewed by Federal Officials
Washington- Federal officials have interviewed a California man believed to be the maker of an anti-Islam film that has ignited a wave of protests in the Muslim world, CNN reported Saturday.
The questioning came a day after officials said they were reviewing the probation of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, convicted of bank fraud in 2009 and placed on supervised probation for five years.
Officials consider Nakoula to be the filmmaker behind the “Innocence of Muslims” film.
Steve Whitmore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told CNN that federal officials interviewed Nakoula at the local sheriff’s station.
Whitmore dismissed reports that Nakoula had been arrested, and said he was never in handcuffs and had left his house willingly to be interviewed.
Nakoula served a year in federal prison at Lompoc, California.
Since notice of the film spread through YouTube, Nakoula has been out of public view.
Journalists have gathered at his home in Cerritos, California, seeking information about his elusive background.
The movie, backed by anti-Islam groups in the US, is a low-budget project that was ignored in the US when trailers were posted on YouTube in July.
But after Egyptian TV aired certain segments, violent protests erupted in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Palestinian territories.
A mob attacked the US consulate in Libya’s Benghazi city, leading to the death of the US ambassador and three other American men.
The FBI contacted the filmmaker because of the potential for threats but he is not under investigation, a federal official told CNN.
When news of his movie first broke, he identified himself as Sam Bacile and told the Wall Street Journal that he was a 52-year-old Israeli-American real estate developer from California. He said Jewish donors had financed his film.
But Israel’s foreign ministry said there was no record of a Sam Bacile with Israeli citizenship.