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Elie Wiesel roughed up during peace conference at hotel

February 10, 2007|From the Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust scholar Elie Wiesel was dragged from an elevator and roughed up, possibly by a Holocaust denier, during a peace conference at a hotel last week, police said Friday.

According to San Francisco Police Sgt. Neville Gittens, a man approached Wiesel and requested an interview with the acclaimed author on the evening of Feb. 1 at the Argent Hotel, which was hosting the forum sponsored by the San Francisco-based RockRose Institute.

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. Wiesel then went to the lobby and called police.

Gittens said police were investigating the incident as a crime. Wiesel couldn't be reached for comment at Boston University, where he teaches, or through his institute in New York.

A posting on a virulent anti-Semitic website 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 nonfiction Holocaust memoir, 'Night,' is almost entirely fictitious," Hunt wrote.

The poster also said, "I had been trailing Wiesel for weeks" and had hoped to get "Wiesel into my custody, with a cornered Wiesel finally forced to state the truth on videotape."

Gittens said investigators were aware of the posting. They declined to comment further on the investigation.

The anti-Semitic website was disabled Friday. It is registered to Andrew Winkler in North Sydney, Australia. Winkler did not returned calls seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Federal Police, speaking on condition of anonymity citing institutional policy, said her agency had not yet received a request from U.S. officials seeking help investigating the matter.

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