May 19, 2003

Ernst Zundel: Political Prisoner

By Mark Weber
May 19, 2003

For three months now, Ernst Zundel has been held in Canada as a political prisoner and prisoner of conscience. He is behind bars solely because of his views, and especially his dissident views about the “Holocaust.”

Since Feb. 19, Canadian authorities have been holding the 64-year-old German-born publisher and civil rights activist in solitary confinement on the pretext that he is a threat to national security. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) — something like the American FBI — supports this charge by citing tenuous and years-old ties by Zundel to “white supremacist” groups. While acknowledging that he is not violent himself, CSIS also argues that material published by Zundel might cause “like-minded individuals to engage in violence.”

There is absolutely no basis for the “security threat” charge. Zundel’s life is an open book. He is a peaceful man with no record of violence. During the 40 years he lived in Canada, he was never convicted of a crime. He is himself a victim of hate and violence. He has survived at least three attempts on his life, including a devastating arson attack against his residence.

Zundel was arrested at his home in Tennessee on Feb. 5, where he had been living peacefully with his wife, on the pretext that he missed an interview date with immigration authorities. Two weeks later he was deported to Canada, even though he is married to an American citizen, Ingrid Rimland.

His arrest and detention have generated wide media attention in Canada. At least two Canadian newspapers have editorially protested his imprisonment.

Jewish-Zionist groups are demanding that Zundel be deported to Germany, where he faces years of imprisonment for the “thought crime” of “denying the Holocaust.” (“Holocaust denial” is against the law in Germany, France, Switzerland and some other European countries.)

Zundel is in prison not because his views are unpopular, or because he’s a “security risk.” He’s in prison because Jewish-Zionist groups want him there. He’s a prisoner because he promotes views that the Jewish-Zionist lobby considers harmful to its interests.

This lobby is the decisive, critical factor in the decades-old campaign to silence him. The only sustained and institutionalized effort to imprison him has come from this lobby, which includes the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association, and the League for Human Rights of B’nai B’rith (with the Anti-Defamation League, its counterpart in the US).

Zundel is probably best known as a defendant in two great “Holocaust Trials” in Toronto, 1985 and 1988. He was brought to court on a charge of “publishing false news” by reprinting a booklet, Did Six Million Really Die?. In those trials, Zundel and his team presented detailed evidence refuting the standard “Holocaust” extermination story. Although he was found guilty and sentenced to nine months imprisonment, the country’s highest tribunal later overturned the verdict. On appeal, Canada’s Supreme Court threw out the conviction, declaring on August 27, 1992, that the archaic “false news” law under which he had been convicted was a violation of the country’s Charter of Rights.

More Canadians are speaking out against Zundel’s unjust treatment.

One such person is Bill Dunphy, a veteran investigative journalist and editor for the daily Hamilton Spectator. He spent six years probing Canada’s “white supremacist” movement, and got to know Zundel personally. Although he has no sympathy for Zundel’s views, in a hard-hitting column (Hamilton Spectator, May 14) he told readers:

“Our government has seized and branded Ernst Zundel, stripped him of his human rights, tried him in secret and found him wanting, and will now hand him over to a foreign government anxious to throw him in jail ...

“... Zundel — who did this country a favour by wiping off the books our disgraceful False News laws — has never once been convicted of a criminal offence in this country, never once found to have violated the hate crime laws that rest snugly around the throat of free expression in this country.

“Calculating correctly that there was no political cost, no ‘down side’ to slipping on the jackboots to kick a reviled old man out of our country, our government cobbled together their best insults and innuendo, and Lord knows what secret ‘evidence,’ and branded Ernst Zundel a threat to national security.

“I know this man, his local and international contacts and I know this movement. And after reading the 58-page ‘unclassified’ summary of the government’s case, I can assure you there is no justice here. Their ‘evidence’ is riddled with errors and misinformation, hearsay and inflammatory innuendo. Dead men walk again, and the shattered bits of shoddy secret networks long since collapsed under the weight of their own ineptitude are made whole and menacing once again. It is a shameful piece of dishonest, unreliable tripe.”

The trendy Toronto weekly Eye pointed out in an editorial (May 15) that “declaring Zundel a terrorist now is not the result of any startling new information,” but rather “it has to do with political pressure ...” The paper added:

“The new security certificate admits Zundel has ‘virtually no history of direct personal engagement in acts of serious violence.’ It labels him a terrorist partly because he ‘seeks to destroy the multicultural fabric and underpinnings of Canadian society.’ Citing opposition to official multiculturalism as a type of terrorism risks expanding the war on terror to include everyone to the right of Pierre Trudeau.

“Anti-terrorism provisions should not be used as a catch-all solution. Misapplying terminology in this way damages its credibility, and undermines the efforts against real terrorism. It has also, of course, damaged the integrity of our refugee system.”

Similar concerns have been voiced by the daily Times Colonist of Victoria, British Columbia. In an editorial, “Even Zundel Merits Fairness” (May 9), the paper declared:

“... The way the federal government is trying to get rid of Zundel is wrong — it is using law that is so sweeping in its scope that it may be, as Zundel’s lawyer Doug Christie argues, unconstitutional. It would allow him to be deported on evidence that amounts to mere assumption and subject him to a kangaroo court process where no defence can be mounted.

“The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service calls Zundel the patriarch of Canada’s white supremacist ‘movement.’ It argues he is a risk to national security — a finding essential for his deportation under this procedure — because he is trying to ‘destroy the multicultural fabric and underpinnings of Canadian society.’

“... Most Canadians would be surprised to learn that the country’s multicultural fabric could be torn apart or society toppled by Zundel’s rants which are not, in fact, broadcast widely. But this is the basis for CSIS’s security certificate against Zundel.”

The Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE), a leading free speech advocacy group, is demanding Zundel’s immediate release. “Mr. Zundel is quite literally a political prisoner,” says CAFE director Paul Fromm, who has also been acting as Zundel’s legal representative in his detention hearings. “He is being held in solitary confinement solely for the non-violent expression of his political views.”

The allegation that Zundel might be a threat to national security “is mischievous nonsense,” says Fromm. “Zundel has been politically active in Canada for 40 years. He’s a public figure. His writings and speeches are available on-line. He’s been investigated for years by the police. He’s an open book. Zundel has never advocated or practised violence, nor have his followers,” Fromm adds. “He’s a pacifist and a publisher.”

(For more on the Zundel case, check out the “Zundelsite,” run by his wife, Ingrid Rimland. See also: and