French court upholds conviction of Scientologists
PARIS (AP) — France’s highest appeals court has upheld the 2009 fraud conviction of the Church of Scientology’s French branch, its bookstore and five of its leaders.
The Scientologists were accused of pressuring members into paying large sums for questionable services and materials and using “commercial harassment” against recruits. The group and bookstore were fined 600,000 euros ($814,000). The Scientologists’ appeals of their convictions claimed infringement on their religious freedom.
While Scientology is recognized as a religion in the U.S., Sweden and Spain, it is not considered one under French law.
The Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology, founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems. It claims 10 million members worldwide, including celebrity devotees Tom Cruise and John Travolta.