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A Norwegian was sentenced to prison on Tuesday for posting racist and anti-Semitic propaganda on a Web site — a rare conviction for hate speech on the Internet. The Anti-Racism Center in Oslo filed a police complaint against Tore W. Tvedt, founder of the Vigrid right-wing extremist group, in November after finding possibly illegal material on the group’s Internet site. The Asker and Baerum District Court, on the outskirts of the capital, found the 59-year-old Tvedt guilty on five of six counts of violating Norway’s anti-racism law. It also convicted him of a weapons violation and interfering with police. The ruling said it put special weight on Tevdt’s efforts to draw children and young people into anti-Semitic and racist beliefs. He was sentenced to 75 days in prison, with 45 days suspended, and two years probation. Tvedt’s lawyer, Vidar Lind Iversen, said he would appeal. Activists welcomed what they said was Norway’s first conviction for racism on the Internet. “This is historic because it is the first time someone has been sentenced to prison and has to serve jail time for making racist statements,” said Henrik Lunde of the Anti-Racism Center in Oslo. He said the case also was precedent-setting because the Norwegian was held responsible for the contents of his home page, even though it was posted on a server that was based in the United States and out of Norway’s jurisdiction. In neighboring Sweden, the tabloid Aftonbladet was fined $3,400 on March 7 for allowing racist remarks on its Internet chat site, while a French court will hear a lawsuit against Yahoo Inc. involving auctioning of Nazi paraphernalia next month. Lunde said it has been hard to get racism convictions in Norway, a Scandinavian nation of 4.5 million people, especially for propaganda often anonymously spread on the Internet. “He was convicted for many reasons, which was possible because he stood up and clearly identified himself as the responsible publisher of the material,” Lunde said. On its Internet site, Vigrid professes a doctrine that mixes neo-Nazism, racial hatred and religion, claiming to worship Odin and other ancient Norse gods. Lunde says the site included harsh, often extremely vulgar, anti-Jewish and racist statements, articles and even fairy tales for children. The size of the group is not known, probably only a few youths, he said. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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