The notorious Holocaust denier, Ernst Zundel, has applied for refugee status in Canada.

Zundel left Canada in 2001 after the Canadian Human Rights Commission tribunal forced him to shut down a Web site that vilified Jewish people.

Friends say he was "bitter" when he left. Now he's applying for refugee status because he has no choice.

But human rights groups are fighting to deport him to his home country, Germany, where he will face jail for hate crime convictions.

Zundel's writings sparked rage when he lived in Toronto. He faced death threats, fire bombs and, his friends say, much worse than what he faces now.

But his detractors say the Holocaust denier has reached the end of the line.

"He had renounced his permanent residency status. He had thumbed his nose at a Canadian human rights tribunal. He had hoped never to see this country again. He is in a parcel of trouble as a result of that," said Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Zundel fought for years to get Canadian citizenship and lost. He left Canada in 2001 after 40 years, bitter and driven out after complaints about hate literature on his Web site.

Now his U.S. visa has expired, so his life in Tennessee, where friends say he wrote a newsletter and oversaw a Web site, has come to an end.

"Ernst Zundel deserves the gratitude of people in Canada. He has increased their rights because he got a law that was unconstitutional and unfair thrown out by the Supreme Court of Canada. He secured rights for the people of Canada," said Zundel supporter Mark Weber.

Zundel was turned over to immigration officials in Canada on Wednesday.

He's being held at the Thorold, Ont., detention centre in the Niagara Region.

He plans to appeal his arrest in the U.S., and until then fight for refugee status in Canada.

If he's returned to Germany he faces jail time after being convicted in absentia of hate crimes.

In Canada, he could also face up to five years in jail for breaking a federal court order and continuing to run his hate-filled Web site.