Britain First's leader Paul Golding has been arrested in Belfast in connection with speeches he made at a rally, Northern Ireland's police said Thursday.
Golding was accompanying deputy leader Jayda Fransen in her first court hearing in connection to a speech made at the Northern Ireland Against Terrorism rally in August. Golding was arrested for a speech he made at the same rally, police said.
"Detectives investigating speeches made at the Northern Ireland Against Terrorism Rally on Sunday Aug. 6 this year have arrested a 35-year-old man in the Belfast area today," the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said in a statement.
"He has been taken to Musgrave PSNI Station for interview. There are no further details at this stage," it added.
Golding, 35, is a former senior figure in the far-right British National Party and founded Britain First in 2011. The group describes itself as a "patriotic political party and street movement", but critics denounce it as a far-right, racist organization.
Fransen, whose tweets sparked a dispute between U.K. and U.S. officials last month after they were re-tweeted by the U.S. President Donald Trump, claimed that Golding was arrested on the "same trumped up charges".
Fransen, 31, was remanded on continuing bail until January 9 on the condition that she is not allowed within 500 meters of any rally or demonstration before the case is finished.
An attempt by police to restrict Fransen's use of social media - Twitter and Facebook - was rejected by the judge.
Fransen, who was fined last month after being found guilty by a court in England of religiously aggravated harassment for shouting abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, would be pleading not guilty, her lawyer told Belfast Magistrates Court.
Earlier this week, a video recorded in Belfast was posted on a social media account of the anti-Muslim fringe group Britain First and Fransen spoke of the "Islamification of the mainland" and how Belfast's central mosque was a "den of inequity".
Local councilor Tim Attwood condemned the most recent video.
"I condemn the grotesque and offensive comments made by [...] Jayda Fransen from Britain First outside the Islamic Centre last night," he said.
"There can be no place in Belfast for abusive comments such as 'Muslims [sic] communities are trying to achieve colonization' or 'Campaigning against dens of inequities," Attwood added.
Fransen gained international notoriety after her anti-Muslim video clips were retweeted by U.S. President Donald Trump last month. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May criticized Trump.
"I am very clear that the retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do," she said.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd also denounced Britain First as "an extremist organization which seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which spread lies and stoke tensions".
"President Donald Trump was wrong to retweet videos posted by the far-right group Britain First," Rudd added. However, she said the state visit invitation to Trump had already been made.
No date has been set for the Trump visit but anti-racism activist groups such as Hope Not Hate have started online campaigns for the cancellation of any state visit by the American leader to the U.K.
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