Canadian Press, Apr. 3, 2003
Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel will remain in jail pending an immigration hearing because the government believes he would continue to spread his anti-Semitic views if released, an Immigration and Refugee Board member ruled Tuesday.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Zundel would be in a position to influence his following,” said Robert Murrant.
Earlier, a federal government lawyer argued that Zundel would continue to “flout the law” if he was released from jail and would spread “a call to arms for like-minded individuals to use violence.”
“Mr. Zundel is very much a danger to the public, given that he incites hatred,” David MacIntosh told the board.
Zundel, 64, is seeking refugee status after being returned to Canada by U.S. authorities for overstaying a U.S. visitor’s visa. A German-born Canadian resident for some 40 years until 2001, he has been held in a Thorold, Ont., detention centre near Niagara Falls since Feb. 19.
MacIntosh told the hearing that Zundel flouted American law by failing to appear at a U.S. immigration hearing in 2001, and that he continues to disregard a Canadian Human Rights Commission ruling that his Web site spreads hatred.
If deported to Germany, Zundel would face charges of suspicion of incitement of hate. The charges stem from material on his Web site that denies that the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War ever took place.
Zundel, dressed in the clothes he was arrested in rather than the orange prison overalls he wore Monday, told the hearing that he has no control over the Web site, which is still operational and administered by his American wife.
“I’m a total computer illiterate,” he told the hearing.
Paul Fromm, the director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, represented Zundel at the hearing and said his detention was a violation of the Charter of Rights.
Fromm told the hearing that the only writing utensil Zundel has access to is a short, stubby pencil. Holding the pencil up for all to see, Fromm added that such treatment borders on “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Zundel said earlier Tuesday that poor legal advice from an American lawyer is the reason he’s appearing before the Canadian immigration hearing.
He said that he intended to convert the visitor’s visa to a permanent one so he could live with his American wife and missed a required hearing only because his lawyer told him it was “a matter of routine.
“I was happy to have escaped this persecution,” Zundel said, referring to the media attention and legal troubles he has experienced in Canada.
He said it was never his intention to evade U.S. immigration authorities.
“I did everything that a person could possibly do,” said Zundel.
About 10 of his supporters attended the quasi-judicial hearing, joking with Zundel about his bright yellow suspenders that resembled a measuring tape before the hearing began.
Federal government lawyers MacIntosh and Toby Hoffman are arguing Zundel shouldn’t be released because the government is taking necessary steps to inquire into a reasonable suspicion that he is inadmissible on the grounds of national security.
CSIS official Dave Stewart, the lone witness for the government, testified Monday that Zundel can be considered a white supremacist leader.
“Mr. Zundel is a lightning rod for individuals who believe in the neo-Nazi white supremacist philosophy,” Stewart said. “He sows the seeds and other people build on that.”
Zundel moved to Tennessee in 2001 in the middle of a human rights tribunal hearing about the content of his anti-Semitic Web site, angrily denouncing Canada’s attempts to silence his views.
He was convicted in the early 1990s of breaking Germany’s anti-hate laws and fined $9,000. There also is an outstanding warrant for his arrest on suspicion of incitement of hate, stemming from his Web site.