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New York, Thursday, May 10, 2007
Man ordered to
keep away from Wiesel
By Lisa Leff
NEW JERSEY man was ordered to stay away from
Elie Wiesel for the next three years when he
appeared in a California courtroom for the first
time Friday to face charges of assaulting the Nobel
Eric Hunt, 22, who was extradited from
New Jersey on Thursday, did not speak or enter a
plea when he was arraigned in the Feb. 1 attack at
a San Francisco hotel where Wiesel addressed a
His defense lawyer, John Runfola, said he
was weighing an insanity defense in the case.
"Eric has an undiagnosed psychiatric disorder,"
Runfola said outside court.
"He is not a Holocaust
Hunt has been charged
with attempted kidnapping, false imprisonment,
battery, stalking, elder abuse and hate crimes.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of seven
years in prison and a $10,000 fine, according to
prosecutor Alan Kennedy.
Hunt remains jailed on $500,000 bail and does
not plan to ask the judge to reduce the amount,
Runfola said. At the prosecutor's request, Judge
Donna Little signed an order requiring Hunt
to stay at least 150 yards away from Wiesel and to
have no written or oral contact with him through
May 14, 2010.
Wiesel, 78, who chronicled his experiences as a
Jewish teenager at two Nazi death camps in the
best-selling book "Night," told police he was
accosted by a young man who asked him for an
interview and then dragged him off an elevator at
the Argent Hotel.
Hunt was arrested at a New Jersey psychiatric
hospital where his mother had him placed after he
returned from a solo "road trip" in February
, according to Runfola.
Hunt was given psychiatric drugs while he was
jailed in New Jersey, where another lawyer delayed
his extradition to California by arguing he was not
mentally competent, Runfola said.
"I don't know the amount of time he had this
fixation with Mr. Wiesel, if he had a fixation with
Mr. Wiesel," he said.
Kennedy told the judge he plans to ask for
permission to videotape Wiesel's testimony at an
as-yet to be scheduled hearing to determine whether
there is enough evidence to try Hunt. The procedure
is often used in cases that hinge on the accounts
of older witnesses who may be unavailable to
testify at trial, he said.
Hunt was scheduled to return to court next
Wednesday to enter a plea.
San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, May 10,
receives Koret Prize
Chronicle Staff Writer
prize-winning author Elie Wiesel, speaking
in San Francisco amid tight security Wednesday for
the first time since he was assaulted here,
a Holocaust denier, declared
that such people are "not mentally ill but morally
The 78-year-old professor and Holocaust
survivor, who is in town to receive a lifetime
achievement award from the Koret Foundation, said
he remained "surprised and shocked that there are
so many people who deny the Holocaust."
Surrounded by nearly a dozen police officers and
private security guards, Wiesel spoke at a press
conference whose location was kept secret until
reporters' identities could be verified.
"I never felt as safe in my life," Wiesel said
with a wide smile as he entered the room.
Wiesel was assaulted Feb. 1 in an elevator at
the Argent Hotel, allegedly by Eric Hunt of
New Jersey. Hunt, 22, who allegedly told Wiesel he
wanted to interview him and then grabbed Wiesel and
tried to drag him into a guest room at the hotel,
was arrested three weeks later after bragging about
the assault on a Web site.
Wiesel received the
Koret Prize at a private luncheon. It is awarded
periodically to individuals who make
extraordinary contributions to Jewish life and
culture. The 2007 prize carries a grant of
$250,000 to the Elie Wiesel Foundation for
Humanity, established shortly after Wiesel was
awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in
Boston University professor and native of Romania,
who has written more than 40 books, is best known
for "Night," the story of his youth in Auschwitz
and other Nazi death camps. It has enjoyed a recent
resurgence of popularity after being named a book
club selection by talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
Before receiving the award, Wiesel warned that
anti-Semitism is on the rise and said the main
threat at present comes from Iranian president
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom he called "the No.
1 Holocaust denier in the world."
"When he says he wants nuclear weapons to
destroy the state of Israel, I must believe him,"
Wiesel said. "I have learned to trust the threats
of the enemy. How is it possible for the leader of
a nation to say that and not to be isolated by the
dossier on Elie
Cavendish of Cambridge, has a few things to say
about Elie Wiesel-speak: When I lie, I am
telling the truth
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President Ahamdinejad ever threaten to 'wipe
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25, 2007: Elie
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9, 2007: Wiesel
survives assault in San Francisco hotel
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Deborah Barnhardt is appalled that some people
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Slepokura reminds us that the book is designated
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