Holocaust denier suspected in attempted U.S. kidnapping of survivor Elie Wiesel
Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel says he escaped a kidnapping attempt at a San Fransisco hotel last week.
Wiesel, 78, whose novels deal with his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, told Haaretz he was grabbed by a stranger in an elevator at the hotel he was staying at for a peace conference and was ordered to follow at the risk of violence.
According to San Francisco Police Sgt. Neville Gittens, a man approached Wiesel in an elevator and requested an interview with the author on the evening of February 1 at the Argent Hotel. When Wiesel consented to talk in the hotel’s lobby, the man insisted it be done in a hotel room and dragged the 78-year-old off the elevator on the sixth floor, Gittens said. The assailant fled after Wiesel began to scream, and Wiesel went to the lobby and called police. Gittens said police were investigating the incident as a crime.
A driver’s license in the name of Harry Hunt, a member of a Holocaust denial group, was found in a car parked near the hotel. Hunt has not been located since the event.
A posting on a virulent anti-Semitic Web site Tuesday by a person identifying himself as Eric Hunt claimed responsibility.
“I had planned to bring Wiesel to my hotel room, where he would truthfully answer my questions regarding the fact that his non-fiction Holocaust memoir, ‘Night,’ is almost entirely fictitious,” Hunt wrote on the site.
“I had been trailing Wiesel for weeks and had hoped to bring Wiesel into my custody, with a cornered Wiesel finally forced to state the truth on videotape,” the posting stated further.
Hunt also said on the Web site that Wiesel’s cries for help caused him to let the author go and flee the scene.
Gittens said investigators were aware of the posting and declined to comment further on the investigation.
The anti-Semitic Web site was disabled on Friday. It is registered to Andrew Winkler in North Sydney, Australia. According to media reports, no suspect in the attack has been interrogated thus far.