As soon as Elisabeth was reported to the authorities by NEWS magazine in the fall of 2009 she began speaking out in public about her case. In the two years since then she has spoken at public events in Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Gothenburg, and Luton, England. She began a series of appearance in North America with a speech at the Freedom Defense Initiative in Washington D.C. in February 2010. During that same visit she appeared on Capitol Hill to brief a group of interested people on the suppression of free speech in Austria.
Elisabeth followed up over the next year and a half with several appearances in the USA and Canada as a speaker at events for ACT! for America, for which she is Austrian chapter head. She also spoke about freedom of speech in Florida and Montréal, and appeared on Ezra Levant’s television program in Canada.
Well-known public figures who have publicly supported Elisabeth include Congressman Allen West, writer Mark Steyn, European politicians Geert Wilders, Kent Ekeroth, Heinz-Christian Strache, René Stadtkewitz, and Oskar Freysinger. She has found additional support from Pat Condell in his widely-viewed videos, and from Danish historian Lars Hedegaard of the International Free Press Society.
In the next few weeks Elisabeth will face a crucial decision: Should she pay the €480 fine? Or should she spend two months in jail?
Paying the fine would be an implicit acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the verdict against her, and an admission that Austria has the right to charge and convict her for exercising her right to free speech as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This is a dilemma that no one should ever be forced to confront. But such is the current parlous state of free speech in Europe.
◦ January 2008 ESW began series of three-part seminars on ideology and effect of Islam, particularly in Europe. At first, attendance was about 10 people per session. Later it increased to 35.
◦ October 2009 Infiltration of leftist magazine journalist in 2 seminars.
◦ November 2009 The story broke in NEWS magazine. ESW was reported to the authorities.
◦ February 2010 Interview with Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Terrorism Prevention.
◦ April 2010 ESW submitted extensive written answers to questions from Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Terrorism Prevention.
◦ October 2010 ESW was informed via NEWS magazine of indictment and impending trial.
◦ Nov. 23, 2010 First day of the trial. 2.5 hrs of intensive questioning by the judge
◦ Jan. 18, 2011 Court reconvened. No verdict; the trial was adjourned until February 15th.
◦ Feb. 15, 2011 Verdict:
◦ On the original charge of “incitement to hatred”: Not guilty
◦ On the second the new charge of “denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion”: Guilty
◦ Current status The case is on appeal. The next court date is Dec. 20, 2011, when the verdict on the appeal will be handed down.
Below are some of the articles containing more detailed information about the events described in this series:
For more information on Elisabeth’s work at the OSCE, see this report from November 2011.
Many thanks to Aeneas of the International Civil Liberties Alliance for the photos used in this series.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
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