Scientology demands access to Berlin Senate Archives
October 13, 2000
as reported by the Berliner Zeitung
The Scientology sect is attempting to get a look into the internal matters of the Berlin State Senate. It demanded to receive access to documents in all levels of the government, including the ministry of internal affairs (responsible for Constitutional security), the ministry of youth affairs (responsible for sects) and also the commerce and justice ministries. In its request, Scientology cited a new law about freedom of information that allows citizens to obtain access to government documents.
According to information obtained by the Berliner Zeitung, a high-ranking Scientologist from Munich wanted a closer look at, for example, the youth ministry, and asked to see no less than thirty files. It has an enormous amount of information there, which has been collected by the local Berlin representatives on sect issues. At present, agency employees are examining the files and striking out certain spots on the copies intended for the Scientologists. According to law, opinions expressed by other agencies, political evaluations of other German states and security agency plans are not to be released. The youth office has postponed the request for an indefinite amount of time.
One Scientologist already has obtained access to files of the ministry of internal affairs. A ministry spokesman explained, however, that the documents the Scientologist got to look at contained nothing except newspaper articles which could have possibly also been obtained from other sources. The justice ministry, in its turn, refused to open its archive for Scientology, which immediately filed a lawsuit in the administrative court. And in this case a decision will not be announced for the time being. The ministry of commerce has also received a request from Scientology.
Ingo Lehmann, director of the so-called "Office for Human Rights" of "Scientology Church Germany," stated that the requests were perfectly justified, and that because of Scientology's characterization by German agencies as a dangerous sect, he would like to know what kind of documents they had to corroborate that characterization.
The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution (the federal security service) indicated that the behavior of Scientology had been verified and expressed himself by citing the forecast from last year's report on Scientology: "One of the goals paramount to the Scientology organization in the near future is to take those actions necessary to stop its surveillance by the government. Obviously the government surveillance of the organization presents a decisive obstacle to its propagation and growth."
Roland Gewalt, press spokesman for the leading party in Germany who is responsible for internal affairs, stated that he intends to submit a legislative proposal that would tighten up the freedom of information law.
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