Some Canadians whose associations with white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups were recently revealed, are defending their involvement with the organizations, while others deny having anything to do with the groups anymore.
CBC News reported Wednesday that the names of 74 Canadians were found in files leaked by computer hackers in Europe who were intent on exposing hate movements. The identities were revealed on a website called nazi-leaks.net, which is now offline.
“It is an invasion of privacy,” said Joel Henry, of Langley, B.C., in a telephone interview with CBC News Thursday.
“I have my beliefs and I still have my beliefs,” said Henry. “It’s just certain members of the group want to go out and beat the s--t out of people and I don’t condone that.”
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McLean Welsh, of Nanaimo, B.C., who is attending school in Quebec, sought to distance himself from one of the hacked organizations.
“I could be on the list because I bought a couple T-shirts off that website a couple of years ago,” said Welsh, when reached via Skype. “For instance, the shirt I’m wearing right now.”
Welsh said he has severed his ties with the group.
“I joined the Stormfront once and it just didn’t appeal to me,” said Welsh. “Because as soon as you say you’re proud to be white, you’re automatically associated with a Nazi party.”
Membership not illegal
New Westminster police detective Terry Wilson, head of the B.C. hate crime team, said he and his colleagues aren't sure if the hacked information is useful for their purposes or not.
McLean Welsh says he's severed ties with a group from which he once ordered T-shirts. (Facebook)
Wilson also cautioned that the RCMP is not trying to police how people think, but will step in once individuals’ actions break the law.
“Membership [in these groups] is not against the law,” he said. ”It’s when your motivations make you do criminal offences, that’s when it becomes a police issue and that’s when the B.C. hate crime team and other hate crime teams across the country get involved.”
Police and government security organizations should be able to make use of the hacked information, according to Simon Fraser University professor Andre Gerolymatos, who has written extensively on espionage.
“Any information is good information,” said Gerolymatos. “Something that comes like this is sort of a small bonanza. And at the very least it can verify information that [authorities] already have.”