Scientology wants access to senate records

Sect commissioner blacking out sensitive texts selections

Berliner Zeitung/November 13, 2000
By Gilbert Schomaker

The Scientology organization is trying to get a glimpse into the internal workings of the senate government. Those affected by the request for records access include the Interior Administration, which is responsible for Constitutional Security, the Youth Administration, which is responsible for sects, as well as the Commerce and Justice Administrations. In doing this Scientology is invoking the new freedom of information law which enables citizens access to recorded proceedings by the government.

30 sect commissioner folders According to information the "Berliner Zeitung" has received, a highly placed member of Scientology from Munich wants to look at over 30 folders in the Youth Administration alone. Much information will have been assembled there by the local sect commissioners of Berlin State. "That is a highly sensitive area," according to the agency. Sect commissioner staff are currently viewing the files in order to black out the sensitive text selections in the copies for Scientology. Opinions from other agencies, political judgments from other German states or security agency strategies are not supposed to be forwarded to third parties. The final agency decision is supposed to be sent to Scientology this week.

One Scientologist has already gotten access to folders in the Interior Administration. "But the material practically contained nothing except press articles which were public anyway," said Andreas Schmid von Puskas of the Interior Administration. The Justice Administration, however, took action against records access, according to "Berliner Zeitung" information.

Scientology subsequently sued the agency in administrative court. A decision is still pending. The Senate Commerce Administration has also be presented with a request.

Ingo Lehmann, director of the so-called Human Rights Office of the Scientology Church Germany, justified the requests for files access, "Because we are categorized as dangerous phantoms, we wanted to find out with which documents that was founded."

Constitutional Security views the Scientologists' new proceedings as verification of its report from last year. It was predicted in the report, "The involvement of the Scientology Organization in ending government surveillance of itself (...) is one of its primary short-term goals. That is because surveillance forms a decisive obstacle in the organization's endeavor for expansion on all sides."

"Scientology's requests are problematic in the highest degree," said Roland Gewalt, the CDU faction's interior political spokesman. He said he promotes tightening up the freedom of information law.

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