The man reported to have been responsible for making and posting on YouTube a video that has inflamed protesters across the Muslim world has a criminal record and is currently under investigation for possible violation of his probation, U.S. media reported Friday.
The man, named as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula by a U.S. law enforcement official cited in a report by the Associated Press, was arrested for bank fraud in 2009 and convicted the following year. He was also convicted in the 1990s on drug charges, U.S. media said.
Nakoula, whose aliases include Sam Bacile – the name associated with the YouTube posting – is an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who in 2010 was banned for five years from using “any online service at any location” without the prior approval of his probation officer, according to court records obtained by NBC News.
Authorities are investigating whether his alleged posting of the video on YouTube violated his five-year probation terms, an infraction that experts said could result in incarceration.
“I think it can surely mean jail time, given the nature of the conviction,” said Peter Keane, law professor and Dean Emeritus at Golden Gate University Law School in San Francisco.
“His film is First-Amendment-protected, but he could face up to seven years or a fairly substantial amount of time for violating his probation,” Keane said, referring to the protection of free speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Authorities found Nakoula, 55, when he sought law enforcement protection following death threats he received in connection with the YouTube posting, media reported. Nakoula went into hiding after his home address was circulated on the internet.
In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, Nakoula initially denied he was Bacile. On Friday however, U.S. law enforcement officials said they were certain that Nakoula was responsible for the video.
According to Keane, in addition to any possible violation of his probation for using the internet Nakoula could also face serious legal problems if he used a fictitious name in financial transactions.
“If he made financial transactions for the film using false names he would be indicted on those charges as well,” Keane said.