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Scientology leader is freed on £375,000 Bail

Glasgow Herald, 12th December 1988

The world leader of the Church of Scientology, Heber Jentzsch, was released on bail today along with 10 other members of his controversial sect.

Three weeks after being arrested in a police swoop on a scientologists' international congress at Madridís Melia Castilla hotel in which 69 members of the organization were detained, the 11 were allowed out of the capital's Carabanchel prison on the orders of the Judge investigating allegations of extortion, fraud, forgery, tax and currency offences and infringement of public health laws.

Senor Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia, the 34-year-old Judge who ordered the police raid after a nine-month investigation by detectives and treasury agents into the sect's activities in Spain, signed the release orders for 53-year-old Jentzsch, fellow American Gerald Ford, South African Harold Roussat, seven Spaniards and a Portugese after bail had been deposited at his court late yesterday.

He fixed bail for the sect leader at 75 million pesetas - 375,000 pounds - and 50 million pesetas - 250,000 pounds - for the other 10. All will have to report three times a week to court and cannot leave Spain. Senor Vasquez believes that his investigation into the allegations against Jentsch and his fellow accused could take a year or more.

At the time of their arrest the Judge described the Church of Scientology as "making quick money under the guise of doing good."

When he ordered the police raid on the sect's congress he had spent weeks studying masses of paperwork recounting taped telephone calls made by scientology leaders in Spain to centres in other parts of Europe and to the organisation's headquarters in the United States, details of bank accounts, and reports of conditions at recuperation centres for drug addicts run by the sect.

Today Jentzsch, who took over as "the commodore" - as he is reportedly known to his followers - on the death of the cult's founder, science fiction writer Ron Hubbard, hit back over his arrest.

He said: "I have always liked the Spanish people and I hold no ill will towards Spain for this assault on my religious beliefs. The blame lies with Interpol which deliberately circulated falsehoods about my religion and caused certain Spanish officials to take unjust actions."

"We have only helped thousands of people get off drugs - which is something that can never be wrong. I can only assume that those who attack us are against religious freedom and profit from drug abuse."

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