Two leading Scientology critics are calling upon the FBI and U.S. Attorneys office to investigate the church today after they were notified by the Department of Justice that they have been the victims of a hacker.
Eric Saldarriaga, a private investigator from Queens, NY, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy in March for hiring a hacker to help him access at least 60 private email accounts, including those of Scientology critics Mike Rinder (a former leader of the church) and journalist Tony Ortega. Saldarriaga will be sentenced to up to six months in prison , June 26, and ahead of the sentencing Rinder and Ortega were notified that they were two of his victims.
The two men prepared victims’ statements for the court to consider, and both alleged that Saldarriaga was nothing more than a Scientology fall guy.
“In November, 2013, I caught Saldarriaga ‘spoofing’ one of the email addresses associated with this website,” Ortega wrote on tonyortega.org. “…Saldarriaga had made it look like emails from him were actually coming from me … I immediately notified my attorney.”
Ortega’s attorney looked into the matter, but Saldarriaga’s attorney insisted “that Saldarriaga was not working for Scientology,” Ortega wrote.
However, once Rinder revealed he too had been targeted, the men said they felt the connection was too obvious to ignore.
“There can be no doubt that one of Mr. Saldarriaga’s clients is Scientology,” Rinder wrote in his victim statement. “… The ONLY thing Tony Ortega and I have in common is that we are at the top of Scientology’s enemies list because we have publicly exposed their abusive practices.”
“The crime perpetrated against me is consistent with a pattern of actions carried out against me as a whistleblower and outspoken critic of the Church of Scientology,” he wrote. “I am of no investigative interest to anyone other than Scientology.”
“Scientology has a well-documented policy of harassing and intimidating anyone who criticizes it,” he claims. “… I know this all too well, because as the head of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs, I was responsible for enforcing this written policy.”
Calling it a “pattern of behavior Scientology has gotten away with for far too long,” Rinder urged the U.S. Attorneys Office to launch an investigation.
Now, Ortega too is urging “the court to investigate and prosecute Saldarriaga’s client. Such an investigation would be carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” he noted.
The Church of Scientology did not immediately reply to Radar’s request for comment.