Canadian Press, June 22, 2003
OTTAWA (CP) — The federal government offered to set jailed Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel free to travel to the country of his choice if he would plead guilty to being a national security threat, says his lawyer.
And a senior government source told The Canadian Press the national security certificate could still be dropped altogether if Zundel would return immediately to his native Germany.
“We’d gladly buy Zundel a ticket back to Germany tomorrow,” said the federal source.
But Germany, where Zundel faces up to five years in prison on charges of suspicion of incitement of hatred, is the last place he wants to go.
Zundel remains in solitary confinement at Toronto’s Metro West Detention Centre awaiting his next Federal Court hearing on July 28 and weighing his options, say confidantes.
“As far as accepting deportation to Germany, I don’t believe that’s on, at least when I visited him a week ago,” said Paul Fromm, a free speech advocate and sometime legal adviser.
In fact, both federal offers amount to the same thing, Zundel’s lawyer Doug Christie said in an interview: “It’s the chute that leads to the slaughterhouse.”
Christie said Donald MacIntosh, the senior immigration lawyer Ottawa assigned to the Zundel case, proposed to set the 64-year-old German national free “only if he pleads guilty to being a security threat.”
“And if he does that no other country (but Germany) will take him. Checkmate. Germany has the most repressive laws in Europe to enforce the state religion of German guilt for the Holocaust.”
Zundel has been in running legal skirmishes for at least a decade because of his published writings and Web site glorifying Nazism, denying the Holocaust and alleging a global Jewish conspiracy.
Federal officials are predictably reluctant to be seen negotiating any kind of deal.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Denis Coderre was tight-lipped.
“Things are before the courts right now and we have to let due process take its course,” Mark Dunn said.
Zundel has been behind bars since February, when he was deported to Canada from the United States for overstaying a visitor’s visa. Zundel immediately applied for refugee status in Canada, claiming he’d be persecuted if he was deported to Germany.
The Solicitor General and Immigration Department responded by slapping him with a security certificate declaring him a threat to national security.
A Federal Court judge is in the process of deciding whether the certificate is reasonable based on secret evidence from the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.
Immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman said he would find it very troubling if Ottawa were to use the security certificate process as leverage in immigration matters.
“What they were trying to do by using the security process was to prevent him from having a refugee claim,” said Waldman, who was quick to add he holds “no sympathy at all” for Zundel personally. He believes Zundel’s refugee claim was frivolous and could have been easily rejected.
“It causes me some concern that the government would be issuing the certificate and then negotiating with Mr. Zundel,” Waldman added.
“If they have the evidence in the certificate, they should proceed with the process.”
But Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress said getting Zundel permanently out of Canada is what matters. Farber doesn’t care where he ends up.
“People would always like to see someone like Zundel face justice in Germany,” he said.
“But I think for most Canadians, their bottom line is we don’t want Ernst Zundel in Canada. If there’s another country out there willing to take him, they’re welcome to him.”
Zundel, who lived in Canada for 40 years without being granted citizenship, would like to return to the United States, where his American wife lives in Tennessee, says Fromm. But it’s not at all clear that Zundel’s destination of choice would accept him.
The newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security, contacted Friday and told of the case, couldn’t immediately comment on Zundel’s status.