The filmmaker behind the notorious anti-Muslim film “Innocence of Muslims,” Mark Basseley Youssef, was sentenced Wednesday to one year in prison, the Los Angeles Times reports. Prosecutors and the judge said the sentence was unrelated to the content of the movie.
“Youssef was arrested in late September after a trailer for the film, which portrays the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a pedophile, was uploaded onto YouTube and caused widespread outrage,” the story reports. “Youssef was under a type of federal probation at the time, and admitted to violating terms of that probation in court Wednesday.”
Said Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert Dugdale: "I’m not going to say much about the movie because he’s not here because of the content of the movie."
“Youssef, who was on supervised release after a 2010 conviction on bank and credit card fraud, admitted to four violations, including lying to his probation officer and used bogus names,” the Times reports. “In exchange, prosecutors dropped four other counts, which included allegations Youssef lied to federal authorities in telling them his role in the film’s production was limited to writing the script. Prosecutors also said they had agreed not to file new criminal charges based on Youssef’s false statements to his probation officer.”
An attorney for Youssef told reporters outside the courtroom that Youssef was being punished for exercising free speech, the piece reports.
Said Steven Seiden, the attorney: "In my opinion, the government used these proceedings to chill my client’s 1st Amendment rights.”
Youssef was sentenced to one year in prison, to be followed by four years of supervised release, the report notes.