A neo-Nazi website operator said Tuesday that he refuses to be present in the U.S. for questioning under oath in a lawsuit that accuses him of unleashing an anti-Semitic "troll storm" against a Montana real estate agent's family.
The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin says he lives abroad and claims it's too dangerous for him to travel to the U.S. But a federal magistrate judge ruled Friday that Anglin must be present in the U.S. for a deposition by Tanya Gersh's attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Anglin, an Ohio native, said in an email to The Associated Press that he is unwilling to be deposed in the U.S. despite the judge's decision. He suggested that the Alabama-based law center refuses to meet him abroad or question him remotely by telephone or video conference because it wants him to be harmed.
"Anyone can look at the history of this group and reach the same very obvious conclusion," he wrote.
One of Anglin's attorneys, Marc Randazza, said in a text message Monday that he expects Anglin would "willingly" accept a default judgment against him before returning to the U.S. for a deposition.
"The end result of that will be that the SPLC will get a piece of paper, my client will pay nothing and there won't even be a decision on the legal merits, at least clarifying the law. Everyone loses," Randazza wrote.
David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the law center, said in a statement Tuesday that the court correctly concluded Anglin's assertions about his personal safety are "unfounded and without basis."
In a separate case, a Muslim-American radio host who sued Anglin already is trying to secure a default judgment against him and his company, Moonbase Holdings LLC. In February, attorneys for SiriusXM Radio show host Dean Obeidallah asked a federal court in Ohio to award him more than $1 million in damages for his claims that Anglin falsely accused him of terrorism.
Anglin says he hasn't been to the U.S. since 2012. He refuses to disclose his current whereabouts, saying he gets death threats. But he has said he took up residency in the Philippines sometime before 2010, moved to Greece in 2013 and then moved to Cambodia four days before Tanya Gersh sued him in 2017.
Gersh's lawyers say Anglin hasn't presented any proof that he currently lives outside the U.S.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch ruled last Friday that Anglin's personal safety concerns are "factually unsupported" and no basis for a protective order sparing him from an in-person deposition in the U.S.
In the lawsuit she filed in Montana against Anglin, Gersh says anonymous internet trolls bombarded her family with hateful and threatening messages after Anglin published their personal information, including her 12-year-old son's Twitter handle and photo.
In a string of posts, Anglin had accused Gersh and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana, of engaging in an "extortion racket" against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer. Gersh says she had agreed to help Spencer's mother sell commercial property she owns in Whitefish amid talk of a protest outside the building. Sherry Spencer, however, later accused Gersh of threatening and harassing her into agreeing to sell the property.
Gersh's suit accuses Anglin of invading her privacy, intentionally inflicting "emotional distress" and violating a Montana anti-intimidation law.
Anglin's site takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda in Nazi-era Germany, and includes sections called "Jewish Problem" and "Race War."