(JTA) — Public defenders filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Cleveland asking that convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk be allowed to return to the United States.
The motion asked the judge to set aside Demjanjuk’s denaturalization and deportation to Germany, saying that the U.S. government withheld evidence that could have helped Demjanjuk’s case.
Demjanjuk, 91, immigrated to the United States after World War II and lived in suburban Cleveland starting in 1952. His later years were spent fighting accusations of involvement in wartime crimes against humanity. He was accused in the early 1980s of being the notorious guard "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka death camp, but was released from jail in Israel after seven years when another Ukrainian was identified as the guard in question.
The U.S. Justice Department later reported that Demjanjuk was suspected of having been a guard at Sobibor and was liable for deportation because his U.S. citizenship had been granted based on false information. His citizenship was revoked in 2002, and deportation was approved in 2005. He was deported to Munich in March 2009.
In May, a Munich court found Demjanjuk guilty of war crimes and sentenced him to five years in prison; he is residing in a German nursing home while the case is appealed.
Demjanjuk’s attorneys said in the motion that the FBI believed that a Nazi ID card, the Trawniki card, that shows Demjanjuk served as a death camp guard is a Soviet-made fake, according to The Associated Press.
"Holocaust survivors are appalled at the continuation of cynical legal maneuvers to allow this convicted criminal to evade justice. These efforts are morally obscene," said Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, in a statement.
"Demjanjuk obtained American citizenship by fraudulent means and has been convicted in Germany for the heinous crimes he committed for his Nazi masters. In view of his horrific service to the Nazis, he should never be allowed to re-enter this country to breathe the same air as those who suffered and were victims of Nazi brutality."