Elie Wiesel attack suspect identified 

San Francisco police have identified a suspect in the Feb. 1 attack on author and professor Elie Wiesel by an apparent Holocaust denier at the Argent Hotel.

Police have identified a white male in his 20s living on the East Coast as the suspect in the attack, which was first reported in The Examiner. Police have not revealed the suspect’s identity and could not confirm whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any East Coast police agencies are involved. They did not indicate whether they were close to making an arrest.

Wiesel was accosted in an elevator at about 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 after participating in a panel during a conference at the hotel that discussed the use of force.

A man identifying himself as Eric Hunt took credit for the attack in a Feb. 6 posting on an anti-Semitic Web site. The assailant fled when Wiesel began screaming, police reported.

Police have not confirmed whether the suspect is the same person who made the post on the Web site. Police have never said the suspect’s name was Eric Hunt.

"Until today they used words; now they have switched to violence," Wiesel told Milan-based daily Corriere della Sera. "Their numbers are growing by the day."

The 78-year-old Holocaust survivor said the incident shook him and that, for the first time since World War II, he felt he was being personally targeted.

"I feared for my life in a way that hadn’t happened to me since 1945, before the end of the war," he told Corriere.

Wiesel said he hoped the post would help police find the culprit.

"It is crucial to discover if he was a madman who acted alone or the follower of a larger organization," he said.

Wiesel, who survived the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, has worked for human rights in many parts of the world and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

In the Corriere interview, he urged countries to take a harsher stance against those who argue that millions of Jews did not die at the hands of the Nazis.

"My incident shows a global trend; if society doesn’t act immediately against these individuals it will end up encouraging others to do the same," he said. "Every time I make a speech somewhere in the world there is a group of deniers in that place waiting for me."

amartin@examiner.com

Wire services contributed to this report.

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