Scientology branch in Germany drops legal fight against government surveillance
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The German branch of the Church of Scientology dropped its legal battle against government surveillance of its operations, according to a statement released by the organization on Tuesday. In an April ruling, the North Rhine-Westphalia Higher Administrative Court in Münster refused to consider an appeal made by the Church of Scientology to a February court decision sanctioning the monitoring of Scientology by Germany's intelligence agencies.
The agency which monitors Scientology in Germany is called the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Germany's domestic intelligence agency), and has had the Church of Scientology under surveillance in Germany since 1997. The February ruling by the North Rhine-Westphalia Higher Administrative Court stated: "There are concrete indications that Scientology's activities are to implement Scientology's program in Germany and to expand more and more Scientology's principles in government, economy and society".
In the statement released Tuesday by the Church of Scientology's branch in Germany, the organization said it "felt it was time to reflect on the whole purpose of this battle of legal material and reach a sensible solution."
The Church of Scientology took German authorities to court in March 2003, seeking to stop further surveillance of their organization. In a November 2004 ruling, a court in Cologne upheld the legality of the German government's surveillance of the Church of Scientology. The 2004 ruling was upheld on February 12, 2008, in an appeal to the Higher Administrative Court in Münster.
In December 2007 top security officials in Germany asserted that the aims of Scientology are in conflict with the country's constitution, and requested that authorities investigate whether to ban Scientology in Germany. In January the interior affairs chief of the State of Saxony told the Associated Press (AP) that he thought a ban on Scientology in Germany was unlikely to occur.
|Scared that too much public awareness would be brought on its internal documents?|
In a post Wednesday to the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, Scientology critic Raymond Hill commented on Scientology's recent actions, asking: "Scared that too much public awareness would be brought on its internal documents?" Hill runs the website "Scientology Critical Directory" at www.xenu-directory.net.
|While I'm well aware of their checkered past, decrying it unconstitutional seems like a threatened position to take by a nation.|
In a blog post at a website for The Washington Post, Claire Hoffman was critical of Scientology's treatment in Germany, writing: "While I'm well aware of their checkered past, decrying it unconstitutional seems like a threatened position to take by a nation."
German Church of Scientology spokeswoman Sabine Weber told the AP that the organization has added a "declaration on human rights and democracy" to its bylaws, and has designated an individual to run its human rights program in the country.
The United States Department of State has criticized Germany for its surveillance of Scientology in its annual Human Rights Report.
- "German court upholds surveillance of Scientology" — Wikinews, February 13, 2008
- "Senior security official: "Hardly any chance" to ban German Church of Scientology" — Wikinews, January 1, 2008
- "Germany's top officials seek to ban Scientology" — Wikinews, December 7, 2007
- "Belgian justice prosecutes Scientology" — Wikinews, September 4, 2007
- German Embassy, Washington, D.C.. "Background Papers: Scientology and Germany - Scientology Organization (SO)" — , retrieved May 7, 2008
- "Scientologists drop anti-bugging battle" — , May 7, 2008
- "BERLIN: Scientology branch drops monitoring fight" — , May 7, 2008
- Claire Hoffman (blog, "Under God"). "Germany and Scientology" — , May 7, 2008
- Raymond Hill. "US media" — , May 7, 2008
- Melissa Eddy (Associated Press). "German Scientology church drops court challenge; adds human rights declaration to bylaws" — , May 6, 2008