A Canadian man convicted of spreading anti-Semitic material online was sentenced Monday and banned from posting publicly on the internet, but will not serve any jail time.
Arthur Topham, a 70-year-old former teacher and miner from Quesnel in British Columbia, was found guilty in 2015 of promoting hatred against an identifiable group on his website, Radical Press.
Topham has run the website, described as anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic, since 1998 and was first charged in 2012.
Topham was given a six-month conditional sentence barring him from publicly posting online, as well as a curfew.
At the sentencing hearing, attended by several of his supporters, Topham told the court that the website had already been taken down, and said, “I have also deleted all of my Facebook, Yahoo… I have no online presence,” according to Canada’s CBC News.
He did not appear to have changed his opinions, and didn’t show regret for posting the material.
“I felt that I had a duty as a Canadian citizen to alert the general public of an imminent threat… the interests of the Jewish lobby,” Topham said in court.
He told the court that he was grateful it had brought “my concerns to the record.”
The website carried many articles with anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist content, including the anti-Semitic hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
According to B’nai B’rith Canada, his site called for Jews to be forcibly sterilized, and wrote that Canada is “controlled by the Zionist Jew lobby.”
Justice Bruce Butler rejected the prosecution’s call for house arrest and the claim that Topham’s website was an “indirect call for violence against the Jewish people.”
“He does not call for violence; his views were political satire,” the judge said. “It is not his intent to indirectly incite violence.”
The defense claimed that there was nothing on Topham’s website that wasn’t readily available elsewhere on the internet. “My client is being prosecuted for material that can be found on Amazon,” said lawyer Barclay Johnson.
Immediately after the charges were brought against him, Topham claimed that “judging from the wording of this indictment, it looks like it’s going to be a battle between the Christians and the Jews.”
B’nai B’rith was not satisfied with the sentence, tweeting that it “is very disappointed by lenient sentence for Arthur Topham, convicted of promoting #antisemitism.”
The CEO of B’nai B’rith Canada, Michael Mostyn, said that “the timing is especially disturbing, as Canada’s Jewish community reels from a series of bomb threats against our community centers, inspired by the same hateful ideology that drives Mr. Topham.
“Mr. Topham is a committed and unrepentant Jew-hater, who persisted in publishing lurid anti-Semitic content on his website throughout this legal process,” he said. “Canada’s laissez-faire approach to hate crimes continues to fail minority groups and puts them at increased risk of attacks against their lives or property.”