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Scientology faces charges in Belgium

Scientology, the movement and Church created by the late Ron Hubbard is a very high-profile organization. It has some very popular actors such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta as followers, and is also popular among the rich and famous. It has also been very controversial, with a damning article written in Time magazine as long as 16 years back (click here for the article). The article essentially treats Scientology as a criminal organization and was the subject of great controversy. But this is not the only one. Do a search for Scientology on the web and you will find a great number of articles (including by ex-members) that depict Scientology as a money-grabbing mind-manipulating sect. Scientology is spread over a number of countries, but is also banned in quite a few. For example, Germany considers Scientology as an enterprise taking advantage of people. And now Belgium has also jumped in. In the latest setback to Scientology in the European continent, after a 10 year investigation, the investigating prosecutor has recommended that Scientology be taken to court for fraud and extortion.

Scientology said it would fight the criminal charges recommended by investigating prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen, who said that up to 12 unidentified people should face charges.
Van Espen’s probe also concluded that Scientology’s Brussels-based Europe office and its Belgian missions conducted unlawful practices in medicine, violated privacy laws and used illegal business contracts, said Lieve Pellens, a spokeswoman at the Federal Prosecutors Office.
A Belgian parliamentary committee report in 1997 labeled Scientology a sect and investigations were launched into the group’s finances and practices, such as the personality tests conducted on new members. Investigators have spent the past decade trying to determine how far Scientology went in recruiting converts after numerous complaints were filed with police by ex-members alleging they’d been the victims of intimidation and extortion.

This is not the only case; but Scientology is also a very powerful organization capable of great influence. Hence it is not easy to fight it, legally it uses the best lawyers to fight its cases and mostly mounts powerful defenses, and has in the past been accused of intimidation. In many judgments, it has been forced to pay compensation, as well as has made extensive payments to settle out of court.
At the same time, it is petty much true that to be a member of Scientology, you have to be rich. Treatments in Scientology can be very expensive.

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