LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ An American neo-Nazi who was convicted in Germany of spreading hate propaganda has been denied a handgun permit in Nebraska because of the conviction.

Gary Lauck said Monday he is appealing the June 29 decision by Lincoln Police Chief Tom Casady.

Lauck, 46, was convicted in Germany in 1995 of inciting racial hatred and distributing pro-Hitler and anti-Jewish propaganda in violation of the German Constitution. Lauck, who was born in Milwaukee and came to Nebraska as a boy, spent roughly four years in six different European prisons. He was deported by Germany earlier this year.

Police cited the felony conviction in denying Lauch the permit.

In a letter to a Lancaster County Court, Lauck argued his conviction in Germany cannot be held against him in the United States.

``I refuse to be criminalized for practicing free speech in the United States of America, especially by our own so-called government,'' Lauck said Monday.

Casady said the denial was based on the law.

``Obviously, I wouldn't have denied it if I did not feel I could defend the decision,'' Casady said.

The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union was researching constitutional issues arising from the denial, said Matt LeMieux, the chapter's director.

``He was convicted of something in Germany which would be protected under the First Amendment here in the United States,'' LeMieux said.

Lauck said he now divides his time between Lincoln, where his mother lives, and Syracuse, a town near Lincoln.