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Norwegian neo-Nazi Vikernes freed in France

French authorities have freed far-right Norwegian musician Kristian Vikernes, detained on Tuesday on suspicion of posing a terrorist threat. His lawyer says he possessed weapons as part of his 'survivalist' philosophy.

Vikernes' release came a day after that of his French wife, Marie Cachet, who was detained at the same time.

An official at the Paris prosecutor's office says Vikernes was charged with inciting racial hatred before his release because of anti-Semitic and xenophobic messages he had posted on the Internet.

At the time of arrest, the French Interior Ministry had said the 40-year-old Vikernes, also known by the stage name "Varg," was close to the "neo-Nazi movement" and was liable to carry out a "major terrorist act."

Interior Minister Manuel Valls later conceded, however, that no specific target or project had been identified, but said authorities had decided to "act before and not afterwards."

Several weapons were found at the couple's home in the central French region of Correze. But Vikernes' lawyer told reporters on Wednesday that they had been acquired "completely legally and without hiding a thing, as part of a philosophy followed by the couple - that of survivalism."

Survivalism is a movement of people who actively prepare for emergencies such as would occur in the case of a social or natural catastrophe. Their preparation includes stockpiling food, water, medicine, and weapons.

Sentenced for murder

Vikernes moved to France with his 25-year-old wife and three children in 2009 after being released from prison in Norway, where he had served 16 years of a 21-year sentence for stabbing to death a fellow musician. He was also accused of setting fire to one or more churches in the early 1990s.

 The prosecutor's office and media reports said on Tuesday that Vikernes had been one of the recipients of a copy of a manifesto written by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik.

The far-right radical Breivik was imprisoned last year for killing 77 people in a bombing in Oslo and a shooting spree on a nearby island in July 2011.

Vikernes, however, distances himself from Breivik on his website, criticizing him for killing more innocent Norwegians than Muslims and calling him a "Christian loser."

Vikernes describes himself as a "pagan."

tj/rc (AFP, Reuters)