Varg Vikernes' former defense attorney says that there is very little legal basis for the BURZUM leader's arrest in France on suspicion of planning "a large terrorist act."
Vikerenes, 40, who has been living in France for the past three years, was taken into custody Tuesday morning (July 16), along with his French wife, Marie Cachet, as a preventive measure after Vikernes posted aggressive racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic comments on Internet forums. The couple's home was searched and five guns were found, including four rifles legally purchased by Varg's wife as a member of a rifle club.
Vikernes' former lawyer in Norway, John Christian Elden, said the musician "has expressed extreme views on race mixing for several years, built on Norse teachings."
According to the French news bureau AFP, Vikernes had been under police surveillance for many years, but it was only when his wife acquired weapons that police started a formal investigation.
Elden, who said that Vikernes has not contacted him since being detained by French police on Tuesday, stated that the musician's arrest appears to have been carried out in part because Vikernes was one 530 supporters to have received the manifesto of Anders Breivik, the man responsible for the July 2011 bomb attack in central Oslo, Norway and shooting rampage in Utøya island that resulted in the deaths of 77 people. In addition, Vikernes' blogs, which include extreme expressions of opinion, and the fact that his wife had bought weapons contributed to the police's decision to arrest the pair. "It's less than what Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) tend to have every time they arrest Islamists in Norway and release them a short time later," Elden said.
"Having received the manifesto before [Breivik] committed his crimes and having been sentenced in Norway in the past for murder, this individual, who was close to a neo-Nazi movement, was likely to prepare a large terrorist act," French Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters.
"The investigation will notably establish the conditions in which these [rifles] were acquired and their real objective," Valls added.
French police can hold suspects in terrorism cases for up to 96 hours before bringing preliminary charges.
In 2011, Vikernes called for the French to vote for the National Front (FN), writing on his official web site that doing so would be the only way to avoid the scourge of mass immigration.
In the open letter, entitled "Dear France," he said: "Your parents may induce you into a vote other than for the FN, but do not listen. They are responsible for the plight of today’s France, because they were too ignorant and too loose, or too brainwashed, to do as they should. They have already proved to the world that they have failed and betrayed France."
Varg was convicted in 1994 and sentenced to Norway's longest prison term of 21 years for the August 1993 murder of MAYHEM guitarist Oystein Aarseth (a.k.a. Euronymous) and for burning down three churches, including the original Holmenkollen Chapel next to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump in Oslo. He was released from prison in 2009 after serving 16 years of that sentence.
Vikernes wrote on his blog that he was "forced out of Norway by greedy lawyers" who claimed he owed their clients money.