Terror suspect released, for now

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UPDATED: Norwegian terror suspect Kristian “Varg” Vikernes was released from prison in France on Thursday evening after French police failed to prove any concrete plans they thought he had for a terrorist attack. He still faces charges that he violated French law against provoking racism.

Vikernes, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, had staunchly denied all allegations that he and his French wife acquired four 22-calibre rifles as part of plans to mount a terrorist attack. He told police that they rather simply wanted to be able to hunt for their own food.

‘Racist provocation’
The weapons were seized after French anti-terror police raided Vikernes’ farm in France on Tuesday morning. Police also reportedly seized Vikernes’ computer equipment, which he’s believed to have used to produce his ultra-right-wing blog in which he has railed against immigrants and Jews, and published inflammatory statements that make him “a threat to society,” according to a French government minister.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Vikernes was ultimately charged with violating French laws against racist provocation. A French prosecutor said Vikernes was charged with racist provocation of Jews and Muslims on the Internet and will be tried in a French court.

Only wants ‘a peaceful life’
Vikernes, a 40-year-old black metal musician and neo-Nazi who’s also a convicted murderer and arsonist, was arrested Tuesday along with his 24-year-old wife. She was released from custody late Wednesday night, while Vikernes was expected to be held at least until Friday or longer if French prosecutors filed formal charges against him.

Vikernes’ French attorney told reporters that his client “only wants to live a peaceful life together with his family.” Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Vikernes has stressed that the weapons were purchased legally and because he and his wife “want to live outside the established consumer society,” according to attorney Julien Freyssinet. “They want to be self-sufficient and obtain their own food. That’s why she (Vikernes’ wife) has learned to shoot.”

‘Cooperating’
Freyssinet said that Vikernes denies “in the strongest of terms” that he planned a terrorist attack. The attorney said Vikernes is cooperating with police to make it  clear that there is absolutely no connection between him and convicted right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 persons in a bombing and massacre two years ago next week.

Freyssinet said his client understands that he’s landed in the police spotlight because of his criminal background, but stressed that he only represents himself in expressing his views.

Vikernes has made headlines in Norway for years, not least after he was convicted in 1994 for burning down three churches including the Holmenkollen Chapel in Oslo, and for stabbing a fellow band member to death. He was released from prison in 2009 after serving 16 years of a 21-year sentence and was allowed to move to France, even though he still faces millions of kroner worth of compensation claims for the destruction he caused in Norway.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund