BERLIN (AP) — A notorious German neo-Nazi was arrested Monday in Hungary, where he had been seeking asylum after fleeing to avoid serving a prison sentence for Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic incitement, officials said.
Hungarian police said Horst Mahler was taken into custody in the northwestern city of Sopron in the early afternoon.
Ken Heidenreich, a spokesman for prosecutors in Munich where the European arrest warrant for Mahler was issued, confirmed that they had been informed by phone that Mahler was in custody.
Mahler, 81, was a founding member of the left-wing Red Army Faction militant group who later turned to the far-right and has had numerous neo-Nazi-related convictions.
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In addition, a court in Mainz in 2003 found Mahler guilty of condoning a crime for saying that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States were justified, and fined him several thousand euros (dollars).
He was also convicted in the mid-1970s for Red Army Faction-related activities — including several bank robberies and for helping notorious terrorist Andreas Baader, another founding member of the group, to escape from jail.
He was serving a 10-year sentence for Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic incitement when a court ruled two years ago that he could leave prison due to serious illness. He was ordered to return to prison late last year, but he refused and fled the country.
The Mitteldeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Monday published a letter from Mahler saying he was asking “the leader of the Hungarian nation, Viktor Orban, to grant me asylum as someone who is being politically persecuted.”
Heidenreich said it was not yet clear when Mahler would be extradited back to Germany to complete his sentence.
The Budapest Regional Court is expected to set a hearing date on Tuesday.
Pablo Gorondi contributed to this report from Budapest.