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Dozens of right-wing extremists rallied Friday in front of the German Embassy in Prague, demanding that Ernst Zundel be set free or tried quickly on charges of inciting racial hatred.
Zundel was arrested in Germany in March after being deported from Canada. In July, he was charged with 14 counts of inciting racial hatred, for his decades of anti-Semitic activities, including repeatedly denying the Holocaust - a crime in Germany - in documents and on the Internet.
Zundel is scheduled to go on trial at a state court in Mannheim, Germany, on Nov. 8.
"We are here to support Ernst Zundel ... how long will he be in prison before he is either sentenced or released," one of the speakers said, declining to identify himself for fear of police persecution. "We are here to support a man for whom spreading the word of freedom is more than personal freedom."
The speaker said he represented "National Corporativism" - a fringe group of activists aiming to set up a political party - and urged other demonstrators to send Zundel letters of support and financial contributions for his defense.
Tomas Jelinek, director of the Theresienstadt Initiative for remembering Holocaust victims, said the rally had been part of a world campaign to support Zundel before the trial's start.
Zundel's supporters rallied peacefully in Prague until midday, separated by a fence and police cordons from a counter-demonstration in which Czech cultural personalities and politicians carried anti-Nazi banners and chanted "Learn how to read!"
"I am sorry for these people who think that the man is in jail because of freedom," said Ludmila Hallarova, 77, carrying a flag with the Star of David. "It is just the other way around."
The Czech Federation of Jewish Communities had urged authorities to ban the demonstration, calling the event a "provocation," but authorities said the organizers were not violating the law.
Two right-wing demonstrators were detained after the rally, and one was charged with supporting movements designed to suppress citizens' rights and freedoms, a crime punishable with up to three years in prison under Czech law, police spokeswoman Eva Miklikova said.
Four others were summoned by police for identity checks, Miklikova said.
Born in Germany in 1939, Zundel emigrated to Canada in 1958 and lived in Toronto and Montreal until 2001. Canadian officials rejected his attempts to obtain citizenship in 1966 and 1994. He moved to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, until he was deported to Canada in 2003 for alleged immigration violations.
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