Geert Wilders, the controversial Dutch politician who was briefly banned from entering the UK due to his views on Islam, has received money from conservative and pro-Israeli groups in the US, according to an investigation by Reuters.
The politician, who is campaigning for re-election for the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, took money from the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum who paid Wilders’ legal costs in 2010 and 2011 after he was accused by Muslim minorities in Holland of inciting racial hatred through the release of his film Fitna.
The film, which featured scenes of bloodshed interspersed with verses from the Koran, was deemed by the judge to fall within the limits of free speech and Wilders was acquitted.
Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, admitted to Reuters that his organisation gave money to Wilders' lawyer for his legal defence.
The politician, who has been under armed guard since 2006, also received money from David Horowitz, who runs an LA-based conservative website called FrontPage magazine. According to the investigation, Horowitz provided funds for Wilders security detail during a visit to the US in 2009, and paid the Dutchman a "good fee" for making a speech.
When asked about his legal expenses, Wilders replied: "I do not answer questions of who they are and what they have paid. This could jeopardize their safety.”
The 49-year-old politician has gained notoriety in Europe and beyond in recent years for his strident criticism of Islam, arguing that "moderate Islam" does not exist and that Muhammad, if alive today, would be "hunted down as a terrorist".
He has also campaigned against the "islamification of Europe" and called for a ban on the Koran, which he has compared to Hitler's Mein Kampf.
Though Wilders is legally allowed to take money to fund his campaign, the revelation that the Dutch party accepts finances from the US offers insight into the dealings of right-wing groups in the US, as well as a flavour of the anti-Islamic sentiment in the America.
FrontPage magazine and the Middle East Forum, both non-profit organisations, could face investigation in the US over the financing of a political candidate, though both told Reuters that they did not provide funds for political activity.