30 arrested in Paris crackdown on Scientologists
Agence France Presse
January 14, 1992
Thirty leading members of France's Scientology Church were under arrest here Tuesday after police raids Monday on the Paris headquarters and an annex of the controversial sect, security forces said.
They said 15 sect leaders were detained on Monday and another 15 on Tuesday with warrants issued by a judge acting on complaints by former sect members who say they have been defrauded of a total four million francs (740,000 dollars).
The searches were at the headquarters of the Church and a building called the Celebrity Center, which bills itself is a school for dianetics, the philosophy of "spiritual awareness" at the center of the sect created by the late science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
Police said Yves Veau, director of the Celebrity Center, was among those detained.
It was the second police swoop in less than two years against the Scientology Church here.
About 30 Scientologists were arrested -- and 19 of them later indicted -- between May and October 1990 on charges of fraud, conspiracy to defraud and the illegal practice of medicine following the 1988 suicide of a church member in Lyon, eastern France.
Veau was one of those indicted in the 1990 arrests.
The Scientology Church, founded in 1954 by the mysterious Hubbard, who died in 1986, claims six million members worldwide.
But a French group opposed to religious sects, the Center for Documentation, Education and Action against Mental Manipulation (CCMM), says it has only about 400,000 members in some 30 countries, including several thousand in France.
Scientology presents itself as "an applied religious science," which promises "scientific mental health" through dianetics.
The philospohy claims that all ilnesses can be cured on condition that the human brain rids itself of "aberrations" -- learning how to achieve this costs around 100,000 francs (18,500 dollars) plus several costly "purification" sessions, CCMM says.
The answer to all the world's problems according to its followers, a cynical and manipulative financial operation according to its critics, Scientology is said to have an annual turnover of some 150 million dollars.
Converts include such celebrities as soprano Julia Migenes-Johnson, actor John Travolta and jazz pianist Chick Corea.
The sect has often found itself in trouble with officialdom the world over, accused of defrauding and brainwashing followers and, in France, of quackery at its illegal anti-drug clinics called "Narconon."