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Ernst Zundel, deported from Canada on Holocaust denial charges, dies at 78

Last Updated Aug 7, 2017 at 6:34 pm EDT

German right wing extremist Ernst Zundel sits in a court at the beginning of a trial where he is accused of incitement in Mannheim, southern Germany, on Nov. 8, 2005. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Probst

German authorities have confirmed that far-right activist Ernst Zundel, who was deported from Canada and served jail time in Germany for denying the Holocaust ever happened, has died.

Zundel’s wife, Ingrid Zundel, had earlier reported her husband’s death on Saturday in an email to The Canadian Press.

She wrote that Zundel died at the home in the Black Forest in Germany where he was born.

Zundel, who was 78, was extradited in Canada in 2005 after earlier being deported from the United States for alleged immigration violations.

A Canadian judge ruled that Zundel’s activities were a threat to national security as well as ”the international community of nations,” clearing the way for his deportation to Germany later that year.

Zundel was convicted in Germany in 2007 on 14 counts of inciting hatred for years of anti-Semitic activities, including contributing to a web site devoted to denying the Holocaust – a crime in that country.

He was released from prison in 2010.

Ingrid Zundel said she believed her husband died from a heart attack, but said she wasn’t sure of many of the details. She said his sister had found him unconscious and called for an ambulance.

“I spoke to Ernst just hours before, and he was optimistic and upbeat as ever. There was no indication that anything was wrong,” Zundel wrote in the email.

Zundel had lived in both Toronto and Montreal for years after emigrating in 1958. He was rejected twice for Canadian citizenship and moved to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, but was sent back to Canada in 2003.

He came to public attention in the 1980s with several publications including “The Hitler We Loved.”

Two attempts at prosecution in Canada ultimately foundered when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s laws against spreading false news as a violation of free speech.

The trials catapulted the permanent resident into the public spotlight and Zundel became a familiar figure with his retinue of yellow hard-hatted followers in Toronto.

He and his supporters had argued he was exercising his right to free speech. He was the subject of numerous threats and his home was once firebombed.

Federal Court Justice Pierre Blais in 2005 found Zundel to be a hatemonger who posed a threat to national security because of his close association with white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups that resorted to violence to press their causes.

Upon his conviction in Germany in 2007, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress called Zundel “one of the most renowned hatemongers.”

“That will be his final epitaph,” Bernie Farber said.

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