The publisher of a British Columbia website that has drawn repeated complaints over its portrayals of Jews has been charged with promoting hatred following a six-month police investigation, officials said Tuesday.
Arthur Topham, 65, was charged with a single count of willfully promoting hatred against “people of the Jewish religion or ethnic group” as well as improper storage of firearms found in his house near Quesnel, B.C.
On his website, Mr. Topham had allegedly posted materials with conspiracy theory themes such as the “Biological Jew” and the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” which has been widely discredited as a fraud.
“The branch has approved charges against him,” said Neil MacKenzie, communications counsel at the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch. He said the province’s assistant deputy attorney general had sign off on the hate crimes charge.
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The charge followed complaints filed by Harry Abrams, a B’nai Brith Canada volunteer in Victoria, B.C., and Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman, who wrote to police on May 1 asking for an investigation.
“We’re glad that the government and the police have taken our concerns seriously and proceeded,” said Anita Bromberg of B’nai Brith. “It seems that a lesson needs to be learned and the criminal system might be the best way to do it.”
Mr. Topham is a miner and is listed as the secretary of the Cariboo Mining Association. He also publishes and edits The Radical Press, a website that has been the subject of formal complaints since at least 2007.
Even after he was questioned by police on May 16, Mr. Topham did not keep silent about his theories concerning Jewish influence, according to a transcript of his police interview that was posted on the Internet.
During the interview, he asked the officer questioning him, Det. Const. Terry Wilson, of the B.C. Hate Crime Team, whether he had been trained in Tel Aviv or whether Mossad had come to Canada to train him.
He lectured the officer about how Jews “control what you’re doing” and said they had “created the unit you’re working for.” He asked the officer if he was a Christian and scolded him for what he was doing.
“These guys have spent the last 2,000 years trying to destroy our religion, and you like a Judas are out here like a, like one of their dogs chasing down people who are trying to defend the Christian religion,” he said.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
It seems that a lesson needs to be learned and the criminal system might be the best way to do it
Doug Christie, Mr. Topham’s defence lawyer, confirmed in an email Tuesday his client had been formally charged. Asked if he wanted to comment, Mr. Christie responded: “Opposition to Zionism should not be illegal.”
But Ms. Bromberg said the website went well beyond that. The “Protocols” is often used by racists as evidence of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. The Biological Jew depicts Jews as “parasites.”
“This isn’t a free speech issue about the politics behind Israel. It is borrowing on age-old canards that raise our concerns that this is designed to spread hate,” she said. “Our concerns were valid, they were carefully considered by the police and obviously, because these were hate crimes charges, by the attorney-general.”
B’nai Brith first complained to the Canadian Human Rights Commission five years ago about Radical Press. But the case stalled due to uncertainty over the law, Meanwhile, B’nai Brith and Mr. Warman complained to police in May.
In a post on his website on Monday, Mr. Topham announced he had been formally charged and portrayed himself as a defender of free speech. “Judging from the wording of this indictment it looks like it’s going to be a battle between the Christians and the Jews,” he wrote.
He claimed the charges were an attack on “all Canadians who value the inherent right to freedom of speech and expression wherever it may be” and that he was fighting a “crucial battle for freedom of speech here in Canada.”