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Jailed book vendor back in trouble over neo-Nazi titles

Bookseller accused of being dedicated to spreading his ideas to other prisoners

Pedro Varela Geiss, the Barcelona bookseller condemned for disseminating genocidal propaganda, spends most of his time in jail reading. Occasionally, he draws or writes letters and goes to the gym when he is allowed. But, mostly, he just reads. So much so and with such speed that, last October, with the cell he shares with four other men getting cramped due to the stacks of literature, Varela decided to leave six of his books in the central library, within reach of other prisoners.

Prison officials allege that the bookseller, who denounces the Holocaust as "myth," has dedicated his time to spreading his ideas to other prisoners. "He is advertising to the other inmates, indicating that the books are at their disposition in the library and he is inviting them to read, explaining that they portray his ideology."

Varela added six titles to the library without permission: Manual of the Iron Guard, Proof Against the Holocaust, The Thoughts of Richard Wagner, Francoism, The History of the Defeated and The Bishop Williansom and Other Deniers. They also seized another tome, The Crimes of the Good, that he left "deliberately visible in his usual spot in the reading room."

Varela has been imprisoned for 15 months but is due for release at the end of March. His lawyer, Fernando Oriente, regrets that the regional justice department had not reduced his sentence to a third-degree offense because it did not consider his rehabilitation to have been successful. Oriente said Varela refused to participate in classes and conversations against racism because he thinks they are all about "brainwashing" those who attend.

His lawyer has solicited a pardon for his client but the prosecutor for hate crimes and discrimination in Barcelona, Miguel Ángel Aguilar, opposed it. Aguilar stands by his decision that Varela reoffended- he wassentenced in 2008 for similar reasons. He still has a pending case in a court in Barcelona concerning crimes against intellectual property for editing and selling Mein Kampf, whose rights belong to the state of Bavaria.

Varela had been selling his own version of Hitler's work in his Barcelona bookstore, located near the German Consulate. The Consulate sued Varela in 2009, sparking an investigation into just how much money he was making from the copyright infringement. Varela had said that he "felt like a victim of persecution."