(JTA) — A Scottish man who taught his girlfriend’s dog to do the Nazi salute was found guilty of a hate crime.
Mark Meechan, 29, was convicted on Tuesday in Airdrie Sheriff’s Court in Scotland and is out on bail until his sentencing next month, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.
He taught the pug, named Buddha, to respond with the Nazi salute when prompted by statements such as “Heil Hitler” and “gas the Jews.” Meechan posted videos of the dog performing the trick on YouTube.
The original video, posted in September 2016 on his YouTube channel, Count Dankula, was viewed more than 2.8 million times before it was removed for violating YouTube’s policy on hate speech. Meechan said on the video that he trained the dog to annoy his girlfriend.
“My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is, so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi,” he said.
Meechan later posted a video in which he apologized for the original dog clips, saying it was a joke and that he has no such political leanings.
“I am so sorry to the Jewish community for any offense I have caused them. This was never my intention and I apologize,” he said.
Sheriff Derek O’Carroll said Tuesday that Meechan “knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive. He would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people.”
O’Carroll said he took freedom of expression into consideration, “but the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility.”