David Duke Arrested In Germany, Ex-Klan Leader Faces Deportation
David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, white supremacist and Louisiana politician, was arrested and taken into custody in Cologne on Friday, prior to a planned speech to a right-wing extremist group, German police said Monday.
The statement by the Cologne police department said that Duke, 61, is "obliged to leave German territory without delay." In a message on his website, Duke said he had been released from jail and requested financial assistance from his followers to fight the deportation.
"To fight this case will cost a lot of money, time and effort," he wrote.
The arrest appears to be tied to Duke's expulsion from the Czech Republic in 2009, following his detention there on suspicion of denying the Holocaust, a crime in many European countries, including Germany. The Cologne police statement said that Duke "was not entitled to stay in Germany" because of a travel ban against him in another, unspecified European country.
Duke, a former neo-Nazi who unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. presidency in 1988 and 1992, served a year in prison in 2003 and 2004 after pleading guilty to tax fraud and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from supporters to pay gambling debts.
Since his release from prison, Duke has traveled and lectured widely, including a 2006 appearance at a Holocaust denial conference in Tehran, Iran. The conference featured numerous speeches denouncing the Holocaust as a "myth." At the conference, Duke voiced support for discredited, fringe scholars imprisoned in Europe for denying the use of gas chambers against Jews during the Holocaust.
In the United States, Duke continues to speak regularly at gatherings of prominent right-wing groups and writes for Stormfront, a leading white-supremacist website.
The Cologne prosecutor's office did not respond to a request for comment about Duke's arrest. A woman who answered a phone number on Duke's website confirmed the arrest but declined to be identified.
In the statement on his website, Duke said that German authorities had arrested him in order to silence his "message of heritage and freedom."
Germany has struggled recently with a resurgence of nationalist groups, some which have been tied to violence against minorities and immigrants. Several days before Duke's arrest, German prosecutors announced a new investigation into a neo-Nazi gang tied to 10 murders, including the killing of a policewoman. The group, which had escaped detection for over a decade, is also suspected in attacks in Cologne and Duesseldorf that injured more than 30 people, mostly immigrants and minorities.
"We all have a responsibility to ensure that extreme-right, nationalistic and anti-Semitic groups and networks are not able to again come together," Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, the German justice minister, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misstated the number of murders a German nationalist group is suspected of committing. It is 10, not eight.