zundel-cp-8233897

Ernst Zundel leaves prison in Mannheim, southern Germany, after serving a five-year sentence for denying the Holocaust. ((Michael Probst/Associated Press))

Ernst Zundel, who was freed on Monday after serving five years in a German prison for denying the Holocaust, said he did not know whether he would try to return to Canada.

"I'm back out after seven years, three weeks, three prisons and three countries," said Zundel, 70, who was welcomed by around 20 supporters as he emerged from the Mannheim prison.

Zundel would not comment when asked whether he believed the Holocaust happened.

"It's kind of a sad situation; there's a lot to say. I'll certainly be careful not to offend anyone and their draconian laws," he said.

Zundel said he would return to his home in the Black Forest area but was unsure whether he would return to Canada.

The German-born Zundel lived in Canada for four decades, making frequent court appearances to argue for the freedom to express his anti-Semitic views in books and pamphlets and on a website.

He was deported to Germany in 2005 after a Federal Court judge ruled he was a threat to national security.

He was immediately arrested upon arrival in his birth country and held without bail because German authorities considered him a flight risk.

In 2007, a German court convicted Zundel of 14 counts of incitement of racial hatred and sentenced him to five years in prison, the maximum allowed under German law for denying the Holocaust.

Zundel and his supporters had argued he was exercising his right to free speech.

In several European countries, including Germany, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Spain and France, Holocaust denial is a specific criminal offence. In Canada, Holocaust denial can be prosecuted as a hate crime.

Although he had received a five-year sentence, Zundel received credit for time served before his 2007 trial.
With files from The Associated Press