Court orders halt to surveillance of Scientologists

Expatica/April 27, 2005

Saarlouis -- A court ordered a halt on Wednesday to covert surveillance of Scientologists in Germany's second-smallest state, Saarland, saying seven years of monitoring the 20 members had not produced any significant evidence of subversion.

The organisation is under watch in most German states because of allegations that it is subversive and that it may bully former members who renounce its ideology of self-improvement.

On appeal, Scientology won its case against the Saarland Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which uses both phone taps and infiltrators to keep tabs on potential subversives.

The superior administrative tribunal in the city of Saarlouis said use of those methods was disproportionate to any potential threat. A lower tribunal in Saarland had ruled against the Scientologists in 2001.

Judges said seven years of surveillance had not produced "findings that would justify the continuation of this surveillance". Scientology had no premises in the state, population 1 million, and had fewer than 20 members there.

Last November, the Church of Scientology failed in a court challenge against the federal German Office for the Protection of the Constitution. That court said Scientology had "anti-constitutional" aims.

In its annual report on human rights, the US State Department has accused Germany of religious persecution of Scientologists.

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