BERLIN (JTA) — Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was arrested as he was about to speak at a neo-Nazi event in Germany.
Duke, who was discovered during identity searches of those attending the event on the outskirts of Cologne, was ordered to leave the country, according to the Die Welt newspaper. In 2007, a ruling originating from Switzerland banned Duke from entering and staying in the contiguous states of Europe, but the 61-year-old Holocaust denier reportedly was living in Austria since then and came to Germany for the event last week.
Duke returned to Austria the day after his arrest, according to Karl Ollinger, an Austrian member of parliament with the Green Party, who according to the Austrian Daily Kurier watches the far-right scene in Austria and takes a special interest in Duke’s activities.
The two neo-Nazi organizations sponsoring the event had advertised Duke’s appearance. According to Die Welt, he only held a special transit pass through Germany.
Approximately 100 police officers reportedly surrounded some 60 men and women on their way to the event and conducted thorough identity searches when Duke was discovered and arrested.
Ollinger told the Kurier that Duke has lived in the resort area of Zell am See since 2007 and said he was planning to question Austria’s Interior Ministry as to why "a leading international figure from the far-right extremist movement can take refuge in Austria when another Schengen country kicks him out."
Duke in recent years has been promoting his racist and anti-Semitic views primarily in Eastern European and former Soviet countries.