Producer of ‘Benghazi-linked, anti-Muslim’ video set to be released

Innocence of MuslimsMark Basseley Youssef, the man behind the video “Innocence of Muslims,” is set to be released from federal custody later this week.

The “anti-Muslim” film resulted in violent demonstrations and protests across the Middle East and was initially said to be the cause for the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, as then-U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice proclaimed on national television in the days following the attack.

The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian is set to be released on Thursday from a halfway house in Southern California where he’s been since May, a Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman told The Associated Press.

Youssef, formerly known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was sentenced to a year in federal prison in November for using false names in violation of a probation order in a bank fraud case.

While said to not be related to the film, federal law enforcement officials began investigating whether Youssef violated his probation in the aftermath of violent reactions to the video, NBC News reported.

An action that prompted some to see Youssef, a U.S. resident, as the only man jailed in America for violating sharia blasphemy laws.

“This is not an investigation of the film,” an official stressed to NBC News at the time, or in any way intended to infringe on his “First Amendment rights.”

During an interview earlier this year, Youssef said he was proud of the film and was fighting against the “terrorism culture,” not religion, the Associated Press reported.

“I have a lot of Muslim friends and not all the Muslims believe in the terrorism culture,” he told Fox News in a telephone interview. “Some of them believe in this culture. That’s why we need to fight (against) the culture, not the Muslims. My enemy is the terrorism culture.”

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Tom Tillison

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