Posted Friday, February 21, 2003

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  A spokesman for the German embassy confirmed Wednesday that Mr. Zündel is the subject of an outstanding warrant in Germany.
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Globe and Mail

Toronto, Thursday, February 20, 2003


The Americans don't want him, so Ernst Zündel is back in Canada

Holocaust denier wants refugee status, group says


Niagara Falls, Ont./Ottawa -- Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel was forcibly returned to Canada Wednesday from the United States.

Mr. Zündel spent most of the day in a Fort Erie, Ont., immigration centre after he was taken across the border from the United States, where he had been living for about three years.

Later, he smiled and waved to journalists from a minivan that was driven to a Niagara Falls detention centre.

The Canadian Jewish Congress, which has been fighting Mr. Zündel's anti-Semitic rants for years, says Mr. Zündel is pursuing a claim for refugee status.

Sources in Ottawa said Immigration Minister Denis Coderre was "furious" when he learned that Mr. Zündel had returned to Canada. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mr. Coderre did not refer to Mr. Zündel by name but decried those who would make a "mockery" of Canada's refugee-protection system.

"I'm totally dedicated to making sure that the legitimate people who are seeking our generosity will be facilitated," he said outside the House of Commons. "But ... those who are trying the system and who give a bad reputation to our system should be careful."

Immigration Department officials would not answer questions about the status of the German-born Mr. Zündel. The Holocaust denier had been living in Tennessee after leaving Canada, where he had permanent-resident status for most of his life.

He left Canada a bitter man, angered at this country's many attempts to silence his views.

Mr. Zündel was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agents two weeks ago at his home outside Knoxville. He is alleged to have overstayed his visitor's visa.

The United States tried to remove Mr. Zündel on Monday but he was refused entry by Canadian officials, an INS spokesman said.

"I think that sometimes when there is a transfer between two countries, issues arise," Mike Gilhooly said. "But they were addressed."

The United States says Mr. Zündel was removed from the country under the terms of a 1987 cross-border treaty with Canada, and that he cannot return to the United States for 20 years.

FarberCanada no longer considers Mr. Zündel a permanent resident, so he has claimed refugee status, Bernie Farber, a spokesman for the Canadian Jewish Congress, said in an interview. Mr. Farber, who has been tracking Mr. Zündel for years, said sources have told him that Mr. Zündel had applied for refugee status.

A spokesman for the German embassy confirmed Wednesday that Mr. Zündel is the subject of an outstanding warrant in Germany. In the early 1990s, Mr. Zündel was fined the equivalent of $9,000 for breaking Germany's antihate laws during a visit to Munich.

A claim of refugee status by Mr. Zündel would present a bizarre clash of the principles of refugee protections and hate-crime laws.

It would require an assertion that his native country of Germany is going to persecute him for his beliefs if he is returned there. Germany has some of the world's strictest hate-crime laws.

However, Canada's refugee laws also have provisions to prevent people from hiding from foreign criminal charges in Canada by claiming refugee status, although only in some circumstances.

When he left Canada, Mr. Zündel was a landed immigrant with "permanent-resident" status in Canada, meaning he could stay as long as he wanted. But that status can be lost if a permanent resident leaves Canada for too long.

Under the old law, in effect when Mr. Zündel left, spending more than six months out of the country would force him to prove he had not abandoned his Canadian residency. Under the new law, in effect since June 28, 2002, he would have to prove that same claim if he has been out of Canada more than two of the past five years, which he has.

If Mr. Zündel pursues a claim for refugee status, however, it would appear he has given up on claiming that his "permanent-resident" status in Canada is valid.

In the past, Mr. Zündel was the subject of many prolonged hearings in Canada.

In 1996, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service deemed him a threat to national security as he had attempted to obtain Canadian citizenship.

Last year, the Canadian Human Rights Commission ruled that Mr. Zündel's Web site spread hatred. It cited 33 specific documents it considered offensive.

Process servers acting on behalf of the commission and the Canadian Jewish Congress tried Wednesday to present Mr. Zündel with papers indicating that he could be found in contempt of court because his Web site continued to operate from the United States.

With a report from Estanislao Oziewicz


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