Rajneesh Stays Another Night in Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The transcontinental journey of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, en route back to Oregon to face federal immigration charges, was delayed Tuesday as the Indian guru spent a second day in Oklahoma.
U.S. Marshal Stuart Earnest said he expected Rajneesh to continue on his North Carolina-to-Oregon trip Wednesday.
″I can’t say that there won’t be a change of time and place. I can’t reveal what time we’ve been told to do what,″ Earnest added.
Rajneesh spent a ″good night″ in an undisclosed location in central Oklahoma, Earnest said Tuesday.
Rajneesh, 53, was arrested Oct. 28 when two chartered Learjets landed at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina on a flight from Rajneeshpuram, the central Oregon commune-city of about 2,500 Rajneesh followers.
Federal authorities maintain the guru, leader of a sect claiming 500,000 adherents worldwide, was attempting to flee to Bermuda.
Earnest refused to reveal Rajneesh’s whereabouts.
He said marshals were aware of potential security problems. ″We have a national figure here,″ he said.
Rajneesh and 66 other federal prisoners landed in a marshal’s plane about 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Oklahoma City airport.
Normally, male prisoners being transported by the marshals from the East Coast to the West Coast are housed at the Federal Correctional Institute at El Reno, about 20 miles west of the airport.
But Earnest and Rodger Benefiel, executive assistant to the warden at the correctional center, said Tuesday that Rajneesh was not there.
Rajneesh boarded a federal government airplane about 5 p.m. Monday in Charlotte, N.C., with other shackled and handcuffed federal prisoners. Earnest said such prisoner transfers routinely land in Oklahoma City, because the plane operated by the marshal’s service is based here.
Rajneesh and seven disciples were indicted in Oregon on charges they covered up sham marriages between some American followers and foreigners who came with him to the United States. He also was charged with lying to immigration officials to conceal his intent to remain permanently in the United States after he arrived in this country in 1981.
In addition, three of six disciples who flew with Rajneesh to North Carolina were charged with harboring the guru.
The guru’s former secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, and two other former commune leaders are jailed in West Germany on charges of attempting to murder Rajneesh’s physician by poisoning him. Sheela also is charged in the federal indictment.
After Sheela and about a dozen sect leaders abruptly departed the commune in mid-September, Rajneesh accused them of trying to poison followers and others.
Federal and Oregon authorities are investigating the allegations.