SFPD: Arrest close in Wiesel attack 

San Francisco police said they are very close to arresting a man who may have attacked author Elie Wiesel in a San Francisco hotel.

A $500,000 arrest warrant was issued Friday for Eric Hunt, 22, of Sussex County, N.J. San Francisco Police Sgt. Steve Mannina said an arrest is likely to take place "very soon," but that until an arrest is made, no further details about the investigation will be made public.

Wiesel was in San Francisco for a peace conference organized by the Rock Rose institute at the Argent Hotel on Feb. 1 when a man accosted him in the elevator after Wiesel participated in a panel discussion.

The man said he wanted to interview Wiesel, police said, and dragged Wiesel off the elevator at the sixth floor, purportedly with the intent of taking Wiesel back to his room. The man ran off when Wiesel began screaming, police reported.

Police said Friday that an investigation into a vehicle in the hotel’s garage led them to Hunt, who faces charges of attempted kidnapping, false imprisonment, elder abuse, stalking, battery and the commission of a hate crime.

In a Feb. 6 posting on the anti-Zionist Web site Ziopedia, a writer using the name Eric Hunt took credit for the attack, saying he had been "stalking [Wiesel] for weeks."

The poster indicated he meant to "bring Wiesel to my hotel room where he would truthfully answer my questions regarding the fact that hisnonfiction Holocaust memoir, ‘Night,’ is almost entirely fictitious." Later in the post, the Holocaust is portrayed as a "myth."

Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and author of more than 40 books, including the memoir "Night," about his experience at the Auschwitz concentration camp, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Last fall, Wiesel, a

Boston University professor, was suggested as a possible replacement for Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who faces sexual assault charges.

Wiesel, 78, 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 the Italian newspaper Corriere.

Wiesel said he hoped a posting on an anti-Zionist Web site in which a man claimed responsibility for the attack would lead to an arrest.

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

amartin@examiner.com

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