The producer of an anti-Islamic film which sparked violent protests across the Middle East has gone into hiding after being questioned over suggestions he breached the terms of his probation by posting the film online.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was taken from his home in California and questioned at a nearby sheriff’s station in Los Angeles for half an hour before being released.
He was then dropped off at an undisclosed location, The Telegraph reported.
“He is gone. We don’t know where he went,” said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department. “He said he is not going back to his home.”
Mr Nakoula, 55, is said to be the man behind the film Innocence of Muslims, which caused uproar in the Middle East for its offensive portrayal of the prophet Muhammad.
A 13-minute clip of the film was posted on YouTube by a person using the moniker Sam Bacile. It was later reported that Nakoula used Bacile as an alias, along with many other names.
It was also reported that Nakoula, an Egyptian coptic Christian, was convicted of fraud and is currently on probation. Part of those terms forbid him from using the internet without the permission of a probation officer.
While it appears that the authorities are probing Mr Nakoula’s potential probation breaches, there appears to be no question of any action being taken over his making of the film which is almost certainly protected under the first amendment of the US constitution’s right to freedom of speech.
It has also been reported that a Canadian Hindu group is planning to screen the film in Toronto later this month. The Canadian Hindu Advocacy said it is looking for a cinema to screen the film and said they were doing it to make a point about free speech.
As already reported, Libyan authorities have made several arrests in connection with the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which the ambassador was killed.
US and Libyan officials are investigating the possibility that heavily armed militants used the protest as a pretext for a co-ordinated assault.
No group has said it carried out the attack and officials said it was too early to say if those arrested belonged to a particular organisation.
In Yemen, demonstrators briefly stormed the grounds of the US embassy in Sanaa on Thursday and burnt the US flag before being driven back by security forces.
In Egypt, 224 people were injured in protests outside the US embassy in Cairo on Thursday, with some demonstrators demanding the expulsion of the ambassador. Police vehicles were set alight.
Small protests have also been reported in Bangladesh, Iraq, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia, and security has been increased at US embassies and consulates around the world.