Editor's Note: Click on the video to the right to watch the Patch footage of Nakoula being escorted from his home by sheriff's deputies. Click here for a complete photo gallery of the Sept. 15 exit from his Cerritos, CA home.
After a three-day long media stakeout outside the home of a Cerritos man linked to the making of the anti-Islam movie that has ignited a firestorm of outrage and violence abroad, Cerritos Sheriff's Station deputies on Saturday escorted the filmmaker, whose face was cloaked in secrecy, out of his residence shortly after midnight.
The late night exit began when four Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department vehicles, including an unmarked car, carrying members of the Cerritos Station's Special Assignment Operations (SAO) team rolled up to the scene of the media blitzed cul-de-sac and quickly made their way toward a gate on the left side of the two-story home. After one of the deputies knocked on the black wrought-iron gate, the entrance swung open and two SAO team members made entry into the home's backyard. Meanwhile five deputies stoically stood in front of the gate as a handful of news crews stood by documenting the operation in progress. LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore and Cerritos Sheriff's Capt. Joe Gonzales were also present.
After about five minutes, the gate re-opened and deputies escorted 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula toward the unmarked sheriff's vehicle.
Nakoula's video has been blamed for sparking protests in Libya on Sept. 11 that resulted in the deaths of four Americans including Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods of Imperial Beach and Glen A. Doherty of Encinitas.
The Man In Hiding: What Does Nakoula Look Like?
The embattled filmmaker, a Coptic Christian, was wearing a long gray wool coat, a khaki-toned tweed derby hat and a white towel wrapped around most of his face, allowing only his dark-rimmed eyeglasses to peek through. A news reporter threw out questions to Nakoula as he made his way to the vehicle, but he did not respond nor speak. The filmmaker kept his head down in an attempt to better conceal his identity from the glare of the cameras.
Once the Cerritos resident was inside the sheriff's vehicle, they sped off and made their way to the Cerritos Sheriff's Station (located about a mile away), where Nakoula was interviewed by federal probation officers, Whitmore said.
Almost two hours later, Whitmore and a handful of the SAO team returned to the cul-de-sac, where the spokesman addressed the few lingering members of the media.
"We came assisting federal probation officers to take Mr. Nakoula on a voluntary interview for federal probation," Whitmore said. "They took him to the local sheriff's station (Cerritos) where he was interviewed, he has now since left the area. He's no longer here and that's pretty much the long and short of it."
Whitmore said Nakoula left the area on his own and would not be returning to his Cerritos home.
The spokesman further emphasized that Nakoula was "never handcuffed, he was never arrested, never detained, never in custody -- it was all voluntary," adding that he chose to cover his face, "that's what he wanted and he had every right to do it."
His family remains inside their Cerritos residence, Whitmore added. The family, which neighbors say have lived their for about 10 years, consists of his wife, his college-aged son and daughter and a son who is in middle school.
His lawyer—Steve Seiden, who consulted with Nakoula inside his home Friday afternoon—was not with him at the Cerritos Station, according to Whitmore.
A Look at Nakoula's Past
Nakoula was accused of opening bank and credit card accounts using phony Social Security numbers in 2010. He pleaded no contest to the bank fraud charges in Los Angeles federal court, papers show.
He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Christine A. Snyder to 21 months in federal prison and ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without prior authorization. He was also ordered to pay about $790,000 in restitution.
On Friday, Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the administrative office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, D.C., said the federal probation department in Los Angeles is "reviewing" Nakoula's activities to determine if he violated the terms of his probation. If so, he could be sent back to prison.
The Film Fueling the Recent Violence in the Middle East
On Wednesday, Nakoula was identified as one of the makers of the 14-minute YouTube film "Innocence of Muslims," which portrays the Muslim Prophet Muhammad engaged in apparently crude behavior. Such depictions of the prophet are considered blasphemous by many Muslims.
He told The Associated Press he was a manager of the company that produced the film, but denied being the director, who was previously identified as Sam Bacile. Federal officials, however, believe Nakoula was the man responsible for the controversial video.
Protests apparently ignited by the low-budget film played a role in mob violence in Libya in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
- City News Service contributed to a portion of this report.