Australian scholar Fredrick Töben is in jail even as his book is being published. He was handed a 3-months sentence in Australia for refusing to surrender his freedom of speech in return for a judicial slap on the wrist. Instead, this brave historian took the jail time. 50 Days in Gaol is Töben's assemblage of material covering the time he spent in England's Wandsworth Prison while the English and German governments wrangled over whether or not he could be extradited to Germany for allegedly violating that nation's ban on discussions of "the holocaust" and other taboo topics.
The Wimmera Mail-Times wrote on December 19, 2008:
GOROKE man Fredrick Toben spent 50 days in a London prison after police arrested him at Heathrow Airport on October 1 for Holocaust denial allegations. Speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest in London, Dr Toben told the Mail-Times about his experience. Police arrested him with a European Arrest Warrant issued by Germany in 2004. Dr Toben was on a plane that had travelled from Chicago to Heathrow Airport. It was a transfer flight, with 10 hours planned at Heathrow Airport before a plane trip to Dubai.
Dr Toben said the plane docked at Heathrow Airport at 11.30am on October 1. He said once the plane landed nothing happened, but then there was an announcement that said, "We have an incident." Dr Toben said he knew at that point something was up. It was not the first time security had questioned Dr Toben at airports; it had happened in 2003 and 2004.
"There was an announcement, `Would Dr Toben please identify himself?' I stood up, I had my hand luggage," Dr Toben said. He walked, as directed by the announcement, to the plane's exit.
"Outside the exit there were four fellows, one had a black jacket with police on it, you could see you wouldn't argue with him.
"I was standing right there and I said 'let me make a record of this' and I pulled out my camcorder."
Dr Toben said two of the officers pulled his hands behind his back, believing he had a weapon. By 2pm on October 1 Dr Toben was in a police car travelling to the City of Westminster Magistrate's Court. News of his arrest had made the 2pm news. At 2.30pm he was in court.
At a bail application hearing he argued that in Germany he could not defend himself against the charge of Holocaust denial. Dr Toben explained that if he talked about his opinion in court it exacerbated the charge and he could be jailed for five years. A defence team argued his case during the ensuing weeks.
Dr Toben was born in Jade, northern Germany, and migrated to Australia with his family in 1954. The family bought a farm near Edenhope; his brother still farms in the district. Dr Toben calls Goroke home and returns to the town to 'regain sanity after the insanity of cities'.
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