February 6, 2003
Good Morning from the Zündelsite:
Ernst Zündel was arrested yesterday, allegedly on an immigration violations matter. In a nutshell, he was told that he had missed showing up at a scheduled immigration hearing in May of 2001. Things are still very sketchy, but I will tell you what I know and, in essence, documented for Ernst's immigration attorney.
February 5, 2003
This is what I remember about Ernst's arrest by the officers of INS: It is now 1:10 pm.
Shortly after 11 a. m. the door bell rang. I was in my office. I remember the time because I am on a diet and I knew I could have a snack at 11 a.m. Ernst and John, a local man who helps out with odd jobs, were working on Ernst's painting, framing some of them. Two minutes or so later, Ernst came into my office and said, as I remember it. "Guess what. The INS guys are here because I am supposed to have missed a hearing."
I went outside with him, and there were a total of 5 men, one of them in uniform. (John later told me that the man in uniform was the local deputy sheriff.)
Ernst stood by the hood of John's car with one of the officers handing him a pad with a one-page text that he was trying to get Ernst to sign.
Ernst asked if he could call his lawyer. He was told that he could not.
I asked if I could call a lawyer, and I was told that I could not.
The demeanor of the men, I felt, was threatening. Ernst said he wanted to read the document he was to sign, and was told the men did not have all day.
Nonetheless, he read it very carefully, then told them that he never received a request for a hearing. I reiterated that as well.
I also said that we had received a notification that said a hearing might take "up to 36 months". (Ernst had applied for permanent residency status in the US in the summer of 2000)
The officer just shrugged. Ernst was again urged to sign the paper, and I suggested that he put a note at the bottom stating that he had never received a hearing date.
Ernst then said, as I remember it: "What happens if I don't sign it?" and he was told by the man who stood to his left: "Then we'll have to arrest you." "And if I sign it?"
At that, the man said: "Either way. We are here to arrest you."
Thereupon Ernst signed the paper, I believe. Maybe he just wrote his objection. I never saw what was written there, nor was I given a copy.
Ernst then asked me to get him a jacket and his passport. I went upstairs and one of the agents followed me. He was very snoopy and looked around in several rooms but did not touch anything.
He only said: "You have a nice house. You have a lot of books. Your husband likes to read?"
I said: "We both like to read."
I found the jacket and passport, and when I came down, Ernst had emptied his pockets of his bills and money. It lay on the hood of John's car.
He said to me: "Remember what I told you? That's what they were going to do. Use a bureaucratic excuse to get me." (That was the meaning of his words. I don't remember them exactly.)
I had the presence of mind to ask the names of the officers. They are: John Barnes, Gary Slaybough (apparently the boss), Scott Pitman, Sat D. (?) Lee, and County Sheriff Steve Watson.
Ernst then said to the officers: "I am on medication. Can I take my medication along?" He was told that he could.
He asked me to get it, and I went upstairs to get it. Again, one of the agents followed me. I was shaking by that time, but I got his medication in a plastic grocery bag and took it down.
I saw that he was being put in handcuffs. I said, thinking of his sore wrist: "Is that necessary? There's five of you. He isn't going to run away." One of the officers said: "We do that to all of them, not to show favoritism."
Then Ernst was led away.I did not see in which car he was put, or if he waved goodbye. It all happened very fast.
Our helper, John, was there the whole time because he had worked with Ernst on his painting frames in the garage, and he witnessed everything. I went upstairs, found our immigration lawyer's number, and called him. I told John to stay with me and listen so I would have a witness.
The immigration lawyer said he knew nothing of a hearing; he had not been informed either.
He also said that people didn't get arrested for missing a hearing. He said he would call around and find out what was going on. I told him that one of the officers had told me that Ernst was being taken to Knoxville, and that I would be called and informed what would happen to him. (So far, I have not yet been called by any of the agents.)
The lawyer repeated that he would call around to find out what was going on and he would call me back.
I then called another attorney who is a family friend who had been with us when we first met the immigration lawyer. This attorney thought that the arrest probably had to do with "war fever" - that immigration was rounding up people and Ernst's enemies took advantage of the situation and put on pressure in the right places.
He also thought there might come the question of bail, and that bail for a federal arrest was very high. I said that we would not be able to pay it.
Our friend then offered to have his in-laws come and stay with me for a few days.
I told them I had trusted friends in the area and would be all right.I then talked briefly with John and asked for his recollection. John told me that he was asked for ID and some nosy questions, and he also said he perceived the agents as threatening.I told him that chances were he would be interrogated, and to make sure to tell the truth. I told him that I was sure he knew that Ernst had a high profile, but that he also knew we were decent people who had nothing to hide.
I told him it was very important to tell the truth is he knew it.Our lawyer friend then called me back and said that he had had a very good conversation with the immigration lawyer who thought that a judge had not ordered the arrest, that the arrest came from the Immigration Commissioner - that is, from the top.John is upstairs writing down what he saw and experienced.
I only want to add that I have since talked to Ernst twice, last night and this morning. He is being held in a neighboring county jail and expects to be sent "elsewhere".
He also said to look in the drawer of his night stand for my Valentine's present.
How do I feel? I feel like I felt as a child when my father was taken away by Soviet goons, under a similar flimsy pretense and without any prior notification.
My readers know that I never saw my father again.
I expect to see Ernst again - make no mistake about that!
That is all I know and want to say at this time.I would like to keep my phone line open in case I need to communicate with either Ernst, his attorneys or government officials. Please do not call. E-mail me [irimland@Zündelsite.org] or use our fax. Our number is 865-774-7758
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