Neo-Nazi website founder says he fears returning to U.S.

AP

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FILE - In this undated file photo provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Tanya Gersh poses for a photo. The operator of a leading neo-Nazi website claims it's too dangerous for him to travel to the U.S. to be questioned under oath for a lawsuit accusing him of terrorizing Gersh, a Montana real estate agent, by unleashing an anti-Semitic "troll storm" against her family. Attorneys for The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin have asked a federal magistrate judge for an order excusing him from an in-person deposition in the U.S. Anglin's lawyers insist the Ohio native hasn't lived in the U.S. for years and fears for his safety if his whereabouts are disclosed. Gersh's lawyers say Anglin's request is baseless gamesmanship. (Dan Chung/Southern Poverty Law Center via AP, File)

The operator of a leading neo-Nazi website claims it’s too dangerous for him to travel to the U.S. to be questioned under oath for a lawsuit accusing him of terrorizing a Montana real estate agent by unleashing an anti-Semitic “troll storm” against her family.

Attorneys for The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin have asked a federal magistrate judge for an order excusing him from an in-person deposition in the U.S. Anglin’s lawyers insist the Ohio native hasn’t lived in the U.S. for years and fears for his safety if his whereabouts are disclosed.

Tanya Gersh’s lawyers from the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center say Anglin’s request is baseless gamesmanship.

“Since the outset of this case, (Anglin) has displayed a pattern of disregard for the authority of this Court and the seriousness of these proceedings,” they wrote in a court filing Tuesday.

Court records show Anglin dubiously suggested meeting in Cuba or Venezuela for his deposition by Gersh’s lawyers.

“I have to admit that his suggestions of Caracas or Havana are positions that I am not prepared to vigorously defend,” Marc Randazza, one of Anglin’s lawyers, wrote in an email to Gersh’s attorneys.

However, Anglin’s lawyers argue the court can order Anglin’s deposition to take place abroad or by telephone or video conference.

Gersh sued Anglin in Montana in April 2017, claiming anonymous internet trolls bombarded her family with hateful and threatening messages after Anglin published their personal information, including her 12-year-old son’s Twitter handle and photo.

In a string of posts, Anglin accused Gersh and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana, of engaging in an “extortion racket” against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer. Gersh says she had agreed to help Spencer’s mother sell commercial property she owns in Whitefish amid talk of a protest outside the building. Sherry Spencer, however, later accused Gersh of threatening and harassing her into agreeing to sell the property.

Gersh’s attorneys say they recently deposed Richard Spencer “without incident, and without publicizing either the fact of the deposition or its location or timing.” Anglin’s attorneys claim Spencer’s deposition is a “blatant attempt to use that information to bring unrelated claims against him in Montana.”

The mystery about Anglin’s current whereabouts has been a significant issue in the case. His lawyers say he hasn’t been to the U.S. since 2013 and has no intention of returning.

Anglin has refused to publicly reveal where he is living, claiming he gets “credible” death threats. He has said he took up residency in the Philippines sometime before 2010, moved to Greece in 2013 and then moved to Cambodia four days before Gersh sued him last year.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch concluded there’s sufficient evidence that Anglin was legally “domiciled” in Ohio when Gersh sued him. Anglin’s lawyers had argued the court lacks jurisdiction over the case — and therefore must dismiss it — because they claim Anglin is “not a citizen of any state.”

Gersh’s suit accuses Anglin of invading her privacy, intentionally inflicting “emotional distress” and violating a Montana anti-intimidation law.

Anglin’s site takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda in Nazi-era Germany, and includes sections called “Jewish Problem” and “Race War.”

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