(JTA) – A prominent member of an American neo-Nazi group has been extradited to the Netherlands, where he will stand trial for projecting an antisemitic message onto the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
Robert Wilson is accused of being behind a February incident in which a message was laser-projected onto the house where Anne Frank hid during the Holocaust. The message read “inventor of the ballpoint pen,” a reference to a widely-debunked antisemitic conspiracy theory alleging that Frank’s famous diary is a forgery because it was originally written with a ballpoint pen, which was invented only after World War II.
Frank was discovered by the Nazis in 1944 and died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp the following year. The house where she hid is now a museum.
Wilson is scheduled to make his first court appearance in early October. Originally from Canada, he is a member of the Goyim Defense League, a prominent neo-Nazi group now based in Florida.
Wilson lived in Chula Vista, California, a suburb of San Diego, from 2016 to 2021, when he was accused of assaulting a neighbor and targeting them with homophobic slurs. Soon after the alleged assault, Wilson was accused of hanging an antisemitic banner over a San Diego freeway overpass. He fled the country before he could be prosecuted for a hate crime in the assault.
Since then Wilson has been largely based in Poland, where he holds citizenship, and where he has documented himself committing various antisemitic acts, including displaying vulgar signs directed at the Anti-Defamation League while outside the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 2022. Goyim Defense League founder Jon Minadeo Jr. also posed in the same photo, which Minadeo said led to his arrest by Polish authorities.
Wilson reportedly traveled to Amsterdam several months later, at the time of the Anne Frank House incident. His presence there was discovered by a group of Dutch citizen sleuths devoted to rooting out terrorist activities.
In the spring, the Netherlands issued a European arrest warrant for him, and Polish authorities first arrested him in April, ordering him not to leave the country while the investigation was ongoing. But Wilson was arrested again in July while trying to flee to Canada from an airport in Germany. He was held in Germany before being transferred to Amsterdam in late August.
In July the Netherlands outlawed speech that specifically takes the form of Holocaust denial, but Dutch prosecutors did not indicate in their press release announcing Wilson’s extradition what they would be charging him with.
The unclear nature of the projected message will be a “test case” for the Netherlands, Willem Wagenaar, an extremism researcher who works at the Anne Frank House, told San Diego’s inewsource.
“Is this a punishable offense in the Netherlands, or is this freedom of speech?” Wagenaar said. “It’s in the gray area in between. So we will find out.”