German town, neo-Nazis in online war

The names of thousands of Germans who are trying to stop a planned neo-Nazi training center have been published on the Internet by a right-wing extremist in an apparent attempt to intimidate opponents.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service said that the names of some 3,000 people, mainly residents of the northern town of Delmenhorst who had signed a petition against the center, were posted on the home page of a far-right leader.

The online edition of news weekly Der Spiegel said the extremist, whose name was not released, had branded the opponents "traitors to their people" and said they belonged before a "court of the Reich".

Police said they were investigating the publication of the names but noted the Internet server was based in Lithuania and thus beyond their jurisdiction.

"When a democrat gives his name for a good cause, it is already libelous to have it on an extreme-right home page," police chief Hans-Juergen Thurau said, explaining the decision to launch the probe.

Delmenhorst residents have for two weeks been fighting plans by a well-known far-right lawyer Juergen Rieger to buy a vacant hotel for 3.4 million euros (4.4 million dollars) and convert it into a meeting point and training site for neo-Nazi groups.

Rieger has served a number of high-profile clients, including Holocaust denier Ernst Zuendel.

The present hotel owner enraged opponents when he said he was considering donating the building to a far-right "foundation", which would allow him to bypass any right of first refusal on the property the town might exercise.

Political and civic leaders have attempted to raise money to buy the hotel and keep it out of the hands of neo-Nazis, who they feared might attract violent far-left demonstrators and tarnish the town’s image.

By Wednesday afternoon, they had collected more than 730,000 euros in donation pledges on their own website.

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German town, neo-Nazis in online war