New Zealand man who shared Christchurch mosque massacre video sentenced to prison

A New Zealand man who shared a video of the Christchurch mosque massacre was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Tuesday.

Philip Arps, 44, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing the livestream video of the mass shooting, in which a gunman filmed himself on Facebook killing 51 people at two mosques in March.

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Arps, a businessman, allegedly described the video as "awesome," according to Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O'Driscoll. The judge said Arps had strong and unrepentant views about the Muslim community and committed a hate crime.

Philip Arps, left, was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Tuesday for sharing a video of the New Zealand mosque attacks.

Philip Arps, left, was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Tuesday for sharing a video of the New Zealand mosque attacks. (John Kirk-Anderson/Pool via AP)

"Your offending glorifies and encourages the mass murder carried out under the pretext of religious and racial hatred," the judge said, noting that Arps had compared himself to Rudolf Hess, a Nazi leader under Adolf Hitler.

Arps sent the video of the massacre to around 30 associates, the judge said. He added that Arps also asked somebody to insert crosshairs and include a kill count in order to create an internet meme, although there was no evidence he'd shared the meme.

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Arps faced up to 14 years imprisonment on each count, according to New Zealand laws designed to prevent people from sharing objectionable material.

The 44-year-old apparently argued he had a right to distribute the video under the banner of freedom to pursue his political beliefs. His lawyer, Anselm Williams, said Arps shouldn't be sent to prison, and that he filed an appeal against his sentence.

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"It's my submission that this court needs to be very careful to sentence Mr. Arps based on what it is that he has actually done, and what he accepts he has done, not on the basis of the views that he holds," Williams said.

Arps is one of six people who have been charged with illegally sharing the livestream of the mass shooting. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quick to jump to action following the attacks, announcing a week later the country was immediately banning "military-style semi-automatic weapons."

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The prime minister is also helping lead a global pledge title "Christchurch Call" to help keep internet platforms from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast attacks.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, pleaded not guilty last week to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism in the mosque shooting case. His trial has been scheduled for next May.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.