From: 'Nieuwe Revu' (a major Dutch weekly magazine), December 13, 1995

By Helene Schilders


Steven Fishman won't keep silent

Steven Fishman

This week, the lawsuit Scientology filed against four Internet-providers and publicist Karin Spaink will serve in The Hague. The church wants the defendants to remove the testimony of former Scientology-member Steven Fishman from the Internet. This testimony contains course-material of which Scientology claims the copyright. The defendants claim freedom of speech and warn people for the dangers of Scientology. How a cult causes the first war in cyberspace. Every day, Steven Fishman receives 500 pieces of junkmail. He is telephoned continually and followed wherever he goes. Recently, he lost his job in a nursing home because the patients were told he served time in prison. There used to be a time when Steven Fishman did all those things himself. In the days when he still worked for Scientology, he tried to ruin the lives of renegade members. This all changed when he was arrested on fraud charges in 1988. Scientology trained him to do it, says Fishman. He had committed fraud to get the money because he needed it to pay for the cults courses. Fishman told all the details to his psychologist Uwe Geertz, after which the curch ordered him to kill Geertz. After that, Fishman was ordered to commit suicide. Geertz managed to prevent that. Fishman was sentenced to five years in prison and a $400,000 fine. (On December 29, 1992, he was released on parole.) In November 1991, Fishman and Geertz were interviewed by Time magazine, and Fishman told the reporter what made him commit the fraudulous acts he had been convicted for. Thereupon Scientology filed charges against both, claiming a compensation of $1,000,000.The trial gave Fishman the opportunity to prove that he had been brainwashed and made psychotic by Scientology. In order to do so, he submitted parts of OT I upunti OT VIII. These are the highest and most secret levels in the Scientology-courses. The church dropped the case. But Fishmans testimony - the Fishman Affadavit - remained unsealed because the judge felt people had the right to konw what was waiting for them if they joined Scientology. That was how Arnaldo Lerma got hold of the document. On July 31 and August 1 of this year, he published the Fishman Affadavit in the Internet-discussion group alt.religion.scientology. In that group the cult had been criticized for quite some time already, mostly by former members like Lerma. A few days later, the cult raided his house and confiscated his computer and floppy-disks. Scientology claimed that Lerma violated the copyright on the OT-levels in Fishman's testimony. On September 5, the battle moved to the Netherlands when Scientology asked the Court for a seizure on the hardware of Internet-provider XS4ALL (access for all). Their user ‘fonss' had used the XS4ALL-system to publish the Fishman Affadavit on his homepage (an electronic shop-window where the user makes information available to others). After he was told about the raid, he removed the document (even though later, he made an encoded version available). As a protest, others started to make the document available on their own homepage. Eventually, over a hundred people did so. Amongst them writer Marcel Moring, member of parliament Oussama Cherribi, TROS and the weekly magazine ‘De Groene Amsterdammer'. Thereupon Scientology filed charges against four Internet-providers and against publicist Karin Spaink in Amsterdam. Provider Planet Internet voluntarily joined the defendants. The lawsuit is important for two reasons: it will be the first time that a Dutch judge will issue a ruling overthe question what people can publish on the Internet, and whether or not the providers are responsible for those publications. "We have always said that we can't be held responsible", states XS4ALL-manager Felipe Rodriquez. "That is why we wanted this trial from the very beginning." Karin Spaink is the only private person that received a subpoena, because Scientology sees her as the ‘instigator' of the protest. Spaink was one of the first to publish the document on her homepage. She urged others to do the same. "I'm very angry about all this", Spaink says. "Scientology may have written all sorts of things, but you can't simply retrieve the documents that have become part of a court document. To me, especially the discussion about the status of the Fishman Affadavit is very important. It can't be that some organization decides what pieces can be open to the public. Only the judge can do so. Apart from that. the public interest is served by this. People must have the opportunity to informe themselves about the belief and practicesof Scientology. They don't even want to tell their own members what they are going to learn and how it will be taught to them. But in my opinion, every religion should be obligated to inform those who are interested. When people were more isolated, Scientology could easily intimidate them and prevent information-leaks. But now we have a means of communication that enables a worldwide discussion. I think Scientology seriously underestimated that." Why do critics feel that it's so important to keep the OT-levels in the public domain? According to Scientology teachings, prince Xenu once ruled over the Glactic Federation. 75,000,000 years ago, Xenu solved the overpopulation in his realm by eliminating people and banishing their souls (‘thetans') to Teegeeack (Earth). Xenu put the theans in vulcanoes on Las Palmas and Hawaii, and then bombed them with atoic weapons. After that, the thetans floated in the athmosphere. A thetan occupies a body and moves to another when the body dies. But when a thetan has done too many harmful things and is keeping too many secrets, he can't face up to life anymore and clings to the old body. This is how he becomes a ‘body thetan.' To become healthy and happy, these body thetans have to be removed. And not by a psychologist or psychiatrist, because those people are quacks in the eyes of Scientology (and above that, they are conspiring against the cult). No, the bodythetans can only be removed by attending Scientology-courses, the cost of which can rise to $400,000. Those who have succesfully followed all the OT-levels, are ‘Operating Thetan'. The question is who actually reaches that stage. The student s are told that they have millions of body thetans and that they'll have tobe removed one by one. "Thetans are measured during ‘auditing sessions' with an E-meter", Steven Fishman (46) explains. "This meter measures the sweat on your hands. You reach the point where you hypnotize yourself to belive that there are no thetans. It's a modern version of exorcism. The concept ‘thetan' is very harmful to the spirit: it creates paranoia. Moreover, the removal of thetans is about as pointless as the cleaning of bacterias, apart from the fact that they don't even exist! Thousands of members have turned schizofrenic or psychotic because of this and some have committed suicide. In Scientology terminology, they have become a ‘Potential Trouble Source (PTS) Type III'. They are sent to a Rehabilitation Project Force, a prison camp. All because the cult believes that disease is a punishment for something you have done in a past life. Most people know Dianteics and other small things", Fishman says, "but not the real power and the real ideas. I'm trying to publish those on the Internet. For it is important that people know what the church really stands for." Only when Fishman got connected to the Internet in October, he became aware of the Dutch protest. "I had no idea that I was so famous in Europe. It was the biggest shock of my life! I fully agree with the argument of the Dutch protest-group - freedom of expression - but I also want to fight Scientology. Especially for the people that can't get help, the people in the Scientology concentration-camps. They have to do slave-labour, are hardly allowed to sleep, are being starved, and sometimes audited for sixteen hours in a row. What is happening on the Internet now, is a symbol of the abuse that we, the former members, are fighting against." "Scientology once sent me to a prison-camp because I had expressed criticism", says Dennis Ehrlich (49), a former Scientology reverend who has also been taken to court for violation of copyrights. "They locked me up in a cellar for ten days. Imagine that! And even to this day, they treat me like I am their property. They confiscated my computer in February, and have been fooling around with me in court since then. When Scientology entered my house, they made every house in the world a bit less safe. They showed everybody that they can enter wherever they please." Emotionally: "I have lost my family, my firiends and my job. The worst thing is that they have destroyed the relationship with my daughters. I have EARNED the right to speak up against this f*cking cult! In every f*cking way I choose! Without this right, life means nothing to me. If they ever want to lock me up in a cellar - and I mean it symbolically - they will have to kill me first. I will never tolerate that again." XS4ALL has written a shocking report with fragments of the many articles and messages about the church that have been published on the Internet. XS4ALL writes: Scientology is an extremely dangerous organization with criminal aspects, that uses practically all means available to suppress and fight its opponents." "I'll send our file to the House of Parliament an to the ministry of Justice", says Felipe Rodriquez. The ministry will have to start watching over Scientology, just like they're watching other criminal organizations. The simply ignore the law. And apart from that, their methods will have to be examined by the ministry of Public Health." At first, Karin Spaink didn't know much about Scientology. But as she got deeper into the matter, she found out about some scary things. "It made me sick: prison camps, a secret service. They also believe that you can do anything you like with critics, legally or illegally. Paulette Cooper, who wrote a book about Scientology, became the victim of ‘Operation Freakout'. That operation was aimed at getting her in prison or in a mental institution. The FBI found a description of Operation Freakout in a Scientology office." Now that Spaink has fallen into the cults disgrace herself, she takes her precautions. "I carefully lock my house, check the brakes of my car before I drive away, keep a sharp lookout in the streets and have hidden a copy of my computers hard disk in the house of friend." On the Internet, the attack on Spaink has already begun. "In the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, I have been called a conspirator, have been referred to as KKKSpaink (Ku Klux Klan -ed.) and have recently, together with other critics, been labeled a neo-nazi. I don't know who's responsible for allthat, but it says a lot about the atmosphere. Things are running rampant now." After the Fishman Affadavit had been public for more than two years, it was sealed on August 15 of this year. On November 14, filed an appeal in Pasadena to get this decision undone. The judge is still studying the case. "Afterwards, we were surrounded by OSA, Scientology's secret service", says Fishman. "They scolded us and made vicious remarks. I was also filmed by Eugene Ingram, the most important Scientology-detecive. So I started to talk about the highest OT-levels and they all fled inside their cars. People who know those levels scare them to death, because they are convinced that such people can do anything with their mind. They always threatened me withit as well: if I would do something harmful to the church, they would cause a heartattack. In those days, I believed that. Fear is the only thing that binds people to Scientology." OT VII refers to this: ‘Spot a person. [...] Think a Thought in (on) that person [...] From that person make a choice between (indicated positions or objects)[...]Putting the decision on (in) that person, make a decision about him/her.' And: ‘Go out to a park, train station or other busy area. Practice placing an intention into individuals until you can successfully and easily place an intention into or on a Being and/or a body.' Fishman: "Dr. Geertz's lawyer has made clear during the appeal that Scientology behaves in acertain patern. They abuse the legal system to get whattheywant. Thisis a cult that spends $20,000,000 on lawsuits every year! What we are trying to accomplish, is that the court will say next time; ‘This is ridiculous, we won't allow this case'." The first sign in that direction has appeared. Scientology indicted Arnaldo Lerma, together with his provider DGS and The Washington Post, that had quoted some sentences from the Affadavit. On November 29, judge Leonie Brinkema struck a devastating blow at Scientology. Brinkema ruled that The Washington Post didn't violate Scientology's copyright because the newspaper had made ‘fair use' of the Fishman Affadavit. ‘Fair use' means: limited use for criticism, commentary, report or study. Brinkema doubted if ‘fair use' apllied to Lerma's case, because he had published the complete Affadavit without comments. But the judge was more ‘concerned' about Scientology's intentions in filing the lawsuit. She said: ‘"The court finds the motivation of the plaintiff in filing this lawsuit against The Post is reprehensible. Although the [Religious Technology Center, an arm of the Scientology church,] brought the complaint under traditional secular concepts of copyright and trade secret law, it has becom clear that a much broader motivation prevaled - the stifling of criticism and dissent of the religious practices of Scientology and the destruction of its opponents. [...] Had the Court been aware of the true motives behind this litigation, it might not have granted the RTC's initial ex parte motions for a Temporary Restraining Order and to permit a seizure of Lerma's property." On December 7, I spoke for two and a half hours with Julia Rijnvis (PR) and Martin Weightman (Managing Director European Human Rights) of Scientology. I showed them the mentioned facts and points of view. It was a laborious conversation in which both Scientologists called Steven Fishman a ‘convicted felon', stated that Dennish Ehrlich was ‘crazy' and accused karin Spaink of spreading lies. Below a condensed version of the interview. Q: The OT-levels are part of a public court document. A: (Rijnvis) "That doesn't lift the copyright of the OT-levels. If not, it would mean that every bestseller that ends up in an American court would become a public document that could published. Q: Fishman submitted the material toprove that Scientology brainwashes people. A: (Rijnvis) "In his declaration, he never refers to the OT-levels, which proves hat he only submitted them to have them published. He is trying to frame us. But an FBI-agent has proved that Fishman asked somebody to make the phonecalls in which he is incited to murder and suicide." (Fishman: "That is true, but I did so on the orders of Scientology. They wanted to divert attention from the fraud-investigation that was conducted by the FBI. Later I was really ordered to kill Geertz and myself.") Q: Again: Fishman wanted to prove that he had been brainwashed. A: (Rijnvis) "The Dutch experts say that brainwashing can't be scientifically proven, that brainwashing doesn't exist." Q: What's that you say? There is a lot of evidence. A: (Rijnvis) The American motherchurch has, after 40 years, in 1993 been declared a bonafide religion (in the USA thousands of, sometimes dubious, religions have been officially recognized. In a number of countries, amongst which Germany, Scientology is not recognized as a religion - ed.). All the accusations of the past years have been thoroughly checked and refuted. Anyone who says that the upcoming trial is about freedom of speech, should look into that aspect. Brainwashing, that's so ridiculous! So scientifically obsolete!" Q: Why do OT-levels have to remain secret? A: (Rijnvis) "The texts on the Internet are advanced courses. We only want them to be seen by people who have made the necessary previous steps, because we want to be sure theycan understand the material. This is our right, because it's *our* religion. You've got to have reached a certain level of consciousness." Q: How much does a student have to pay before he is ready for the highest OT-level? A: (Rijnvis) "Well, maybe eh .... that's for those people to decide, isn't it? Others spend their money on other things." Q: Will this have a negative effect on the church's income? A: (Rijnvis) "Of course there are people who aren't a member and who say: ‘What kind of nonsense is this, leave me out of it'. But you give me the impression that you want to portray us as a commercial institution and if you are, you've come to the wrong place." Q: But this *is* a commercial activity. A: (Rijnvis) "Whatever gave you that idea!? We are recognized as a religion. Our members make donations and receive a service in return." Q: You can turn hataround as well: if you want to learn more about Scientology, you have to open your wallet. A: (Rijnvis) "Yeah, and so what? That's the way the Scientology-religion is organized. It has proven to be a good formula to expand the church." Q: Your opponents say that you only claim copyrights to suppress criticism on the church. A: (Weightman) "That is absolutely untrue. We don't like lies and we try to correct them. But we didn't try to stop the discussion about Scientology on the Internet." Q: Then why did your lawyer Helena Kobrin try to remove the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology? A: (Weightman) "That was a mistake." Q: A cancelmessage is a little bit too difficult to create by mistake. A: (Weightman) "I don't know the details of this case." Q: Aren't youconcerned by judge Brinkemas ruling? A: (Rijnvis) "Of course, it's not pleasant. But there is also a provisonal rulign in the case against Dennis Ehrlich, that says providers are responsible. So it's one against one (the judge has ruled that providers might be responsible in certain conditions. -ed)" Weightman: "But it is most certainly not church policy to continuously file lawsuits." Q: Excuse me? The Fishman Affadavit contains numerous intsructions by Ron Hubbard to file lawsuits against critics. Not necissarily with th object to win, but only to make it as difficult as possible for the opponents. A: (Rijnvis) "The question is, whether this has literally been said so by Hubbard. That should be verified." Q: You haven't been all that smart by focusing all that attention on the Fishman Affadavit. Because of this, a lot of awesome facts about Scientology have become known. A: (Rijnvis) "Fishman deliberately added those OT-levels to his declaration to damage the church. If he wouldn't have succeeeded in this way, he would have thoughtof something else. It wouldn't have passed. People on the Internet have been misinformed about us. As if we are some kind of Gestapo-organization. It really is completely ridiculous!" Q: Did you underestimate the force of the Internet? A: (Rijnvis) "The Internet is fast, and that makes it much more difficult to handle these kind of cases." Weightman: "The Dutch reaction was most certainly a surprise. We thought it was a simple copyright-case. We didn't expect people to dig up stupid accusations and other matters. That is something we did underestimate." Q: You have already announced to appeal incase you are going to lose the upcoming lawsuit. If this appeal turns out negative for Scientology as well, will you abide by that decision? A: (Rijnvis) Not beforehand. Ifthere are legal possibilities, we will usethem. We have a ruight to speak ourselve out. We say: ‘This is the copyright-law and this is the way in which to interpret it'." The Internet-community eagerly awaits the lawsuit on December 14. The presence of Steven Fishman, the man who set all of this in motion, adds extra spice to the event. The defendants have flown him in fro the USA especially for the trial. If the judge allows him, Fishman wants to tell him in his opinion, that the Religious Technology Centre (RTC) doesn't even hold he copyrights. "The autograph on that document is a forgery. Apart from that, the document has been notarially certified by David Miscavige, the leader of Scientology and chairman of the board of RTC. That is illegal. At this moment, I am Scientology's biggest enemy", Fishman says. "They have told me they will hunt me to the end of the world, if necessary. ‘You'll not have a moment of peace as long as yopu're alive'. That has proved to be the truth. Now they say that I'm crazy, to silence me. But I will not stop. Scientology can't decide how people from over the whole world should think. The Internet belongs to everybody." Editorial notes: To help Karin Spaink in paying the costof the lawsuit, a support fund has been established. It is called ‘The friends of K.' After reading the article, the editor received a fax-message from international spokesperson Leisa Goodman. In short, she says that the ‘accusations' of Steven Fishman are untrue. According to Goodman, Fishman is a ‘pathological liar', a fact that is supposedly confirmed by prison-psychiatrist Dr. Albert Rossi. (We called Fishmans own psychologist, Dr. Geertz, who denies that Fishman is a pathological liar). Goodman denies that Fishman has worked for Scientology: "He only followed three minor courses until we told him that he could no longerbe a member of Scientology because of hispsychotic behaviour and neurotic dishonesty." Shortly before receiving the fax, we had a telephone conversation with Leisa Goodman. At the end of this conversation, she told our reporter: "I hope you know what you are up against." translated by Patricia