COLOGNE – David Duke, the notorious former Ku Klux Klan leader and onetime candidate for U.S. Senate and President, was arrested in Cologne, where he had tried to meet with German right-wing extremists, Die Welt has learned.

Some 60 men and women from Germany's rightist movements had come last Friday evening to Cologne to hear a speech by Duke, 61. But before the event could get underway, German authorities moved in to stop it. Some 100 police officers carried out identity checks on those gathered, as well as the guest speaker. Duke was taken into custody, and ordered to leave Germany immediately.

According to information acquired by Die Welt, Duke only had transit status in Germany, which means that he is only entitled to travel through the country, not to stop there. Switzerland, which is part of Europe's open-border Schengen agreement, had previously issued a ban that would make it illegal for Duke to stay anywhere in the European member countries.

On Duke's official website, the American confirms his arrest: "I was imprisoned by a gross twisting of travel laws in a blatant attempt by the government to prevent a private and peaceful gathering of about a 100 German citizens eager to hear my message of heritage and freedom."

Duke had also been arrested in the Czech Republic in 2009 on suspicion of Holocaust denial, and ordered to leave the country. Charges were later dropped. 

From 1974 to 1978, Duke was a leading member of the racist Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in Louisiana. He later left the Klan to become an activist for the "National Association for the Advancement of White People" (NAAWP) which supported separation of the races. He later served in the Louisiana House of Representatives, but failed in bids for the US presidency, U.S. Senate and governor of Louisiana.

Duke has since openly supported German Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel. In December 2006, the American, who believes that Jewish lobbyists and Zionists have "infiltrated" the United States, took part in the "Holocaust Conference" organized by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

European security officials view Duke as a dangerous "connecter" for right-wing radical groups and the driving force behind the right-wing Altermedia Internet site.

Read the full story in German by Florian Flade

Photo- Wikipedia

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