Count Dankula: YouTube prankster fined £800 for 'Nazi pug' hate crime

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A man who filmed a pet dog giving Nazi salutes before posting the footage online has been fined £800.

Meechan, who was arrested in 2016, has since apologised to the Jewish community for the video, which he says he made to annoy his girlfriend.

In March past year, at Airdrie Sheriff Court in Lanarkshire, Meechan pleaded not guilty to breaching the Communications Act by sending a "grossly offensive" message, aggravated by religious prejudice.

Speaking outside the court, he said that the decision sets a risky precedent.

Sentencing Mr. Meechan, Sheriff Derek O'Carroll said "The centerpiece of your video consists of you repeating the phrase "gas the Jews" over and over again as a command to a dog, which then reacts".

The 30-year-old has become a cause celebre for "free speech" advocates, and has appeared on right-wing conspiracy site Infowars, and with English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson.

Meechan, of Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, was sentenced at Airdrie Sheriff Court after being found guilty of committing a hate crime last month. "Gas the Jews" in one form or another is repeated by you 23 times within a few minutes.

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"This case was not about whether the video was a "joke" but about whether it was meant to give offense; Meechan himself made clear both in the video and in court that that was his intention, and far from apologizing or expressing regret, is now presenting himself as a martyr and has been embraced by the extreme right".

"You deliberately chose the Holocaust as the theme of the video".

He defended the video, saying the whole point of the "joke" was "the juxtaposition of having an adorable animal reacting to something vulgar".

After the YouTuber was convicted of hate crime, the comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted: "If you don't believe in a person's right to say things that you might find 'grossly offensive, ' then you don't believe in Freedom of Speech".

"You don't get to decide the context of what you said, other people don't get to, the court gets to, that's unsafe".

At a sentencing hearing today, the sheriff declined to impose a custodial sentence, instead fining Meechan £800.

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