You will know by now that a notorious neo Nazi and Holocaust Denier, Fredrick Toben, has been arrested on an EU arrest warrant, and looks set to be deported to Germany, to stand trial on offences related to the activities that you would expect from a man of this type. Toben is a German. His offences relate to his activities through an Australian based website, called the “Adelaide Institute”: and in that sense, took place in Germany: which, apparently, is connected to the world via the internet. I think that countries ought generally to be very circumspect about these sorts of extraterritorial claims of authority.
You will also know that Toben’s extradition is opposed by the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne:
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), acting for the German authorities, argues that agreements signed in 2003 between the UK and other European countries mean that Britain is duty-bound to assist the German authorities.
But Mr Huhne, a former MEP, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that countries could “pick and choose” cases in which they would apply warrants issued by fellow EU member states.
The Lib Dem home affairs spokesman said there were good legal grounds for refusing to participate. He cited the case of Belgium, which is refusing to send suspects to Poland on murder charges which related to abortion.
Mr Huhne said: “There is a clear precedent for doing this and I think we should in this case.”
Chris Huhne is right.
Toben is, in the words of Oliver Kamm, “an appalling man who ought to be set free immediately”.
I do understand why Germany has laws of this nature. I do support laws which criminalise speech that directly incites violence, particularly where there is a serious problem of (say) terrorism or racist attacks on cultural minorities. However, that connection has to be a close one. There has to be a significant possibility of unlawful violence resulting from the words spoken or published. I do also support the concept of an EU arrest warrant. However, given that we clearly are capable of picking and choosing, I very much hope that the judiciary, when the come to review this case, take the view that freedom of expression trumps our obligations to repatriate this racist.
The BBC’s title for their article on Huhne was “MP backing for ‘Holocaust denier’ ” is, at best, mischievous.