Defending herself for sect victims
Housewife explains about the fatal consequences of teachings of salvation and counsels sect victims.
For that she is libelled and sued
May 24, 2000
Portrait by Urs Rauber
Even the federal district attorney sympathized with the sect critic. "[Swiss District Attorney] Carla Del Ponte was very nice at my hearing," Odette Jaccard recalls. "She said that I would be able to continue my work. She just could not help me with it." And the police officer who searched her apartment for incriminating material encouraged her, "Go to the press about this."
In April 1998, Jaccard was arrested because she had handed over information on Swiss members of the Scientology psycho-sect to a German Constitutional Security agent in Basel in an operation that looked like it came out of the movies. That was "political intelligence work." And Odette Jaccard was sentenced to ten days imprisonment suspended in November 1999. An absurd verdict. "But it didn't stop me from continuing to to distribute information about the unholy works of sects." Her attorney appealed the judgment and a decision on it is supposed to be made this summer.
Jaccard had previously been sued by Scientology for "infringement of respect." The court decided in her favor, though, even when it went all the way up to the federal court. She has been disparaged repeatedly in the sect's publications. "That doesn't bother me, either. Because I am doing work for people affected by sects." She knows dozens of sect victims who fell into psychic dependency, financial ruin or who were even driven to attempted suicide. "That is criminal," she believes, "one must say that loudly and clearly."
Odette Jaccard was a cashier at a theater box office and movie theater operator up to 1991, when she defended herself from a sect center in the district and founded the "Association for Information on Scientology and Dianetics" with a couple of her comrades-in-arms. In doing that, didn't she turn into a fanatic herself? No, she said, she spends "less than half of her free time" counselling relatives of sect victims. "Besides that I am a housewife with a husband and a dog," laughs the 66 year old woman, "and, above everything else, a computer freak."
It is from the internet that she gets a major portion of her information on sects. She is particularly proud of her two grandchildren, who distributed many of her leaflets and posters at school and at sports events. "It is important that school children not only know who Martina Hingis [a popular tennis player] is, but also how dangerous sects can be."
Ms. Jaccard was nominated in this regard for the Prix Courage.
Greater assemblywoman plays protector of the state
December 23, 1999 (approx) Beobachter 26/99
Spy antics around a Basel SP greater assemblywoman: Susanne Haller met with a German state security agent and a sect critic from Zurich - and had the both of them caught in a police trap.
by Urs Rauber
For outsiders it was "spy antics," for Scientology a "scandal you haven't seen the last of." The Basel criminal court handed down the judgments at the end of November: 30 days incarceration suspended for German Constitutional Security agent Peter G. and ten days suspended for Zurich sect critic Odette J. - for illegal political intelligence service. The third member of the band, Infosekta board member and Basel SP greater assemblywoman Susanne Haller, came out of it unscathed - because she was not accused.
What had happened. Peter G., agent of [German] Baden-Wuettemberg Constitutional Security had agreed to a meeting on April 6, 1998 with Odette J. of the Information Association on Scientology and Susanne Haller in order to exchange information about the psychosect. The German had intended to pick up the two Swiss women in Basel and drive them to Germany. The greater assemblywoman, for reasons of time, had urged that the meeting be held in a nearby hotel.
They met in the noble Basel Hotel and talked and dined. Only greater assemblywoman Haller knew that the meeting was secretly being observed by the federal police. After two hours the politician sent the state security agent home.
Police operation out of a film
Out of sight and hearing from the women, a scene out of movie was playing in the nearby parking garage. As the German agent was trying to get into his car, two policemen overpowered him, put a bag over his head, dragged him into a car and drove him to the police station, where Peter G. was subjected to a strip search. Then he was put in a cell for three days.
In the meantime the greater assemblywoman marched to the state attorney's office with her unsuspecting comrade-in-arms. Odette J. was interrogated there and transported to Bern. Federal Attorney Carla Del Ponte in person let the perplexed housewife know that proceedings were being taken against her for state treason. She was supposed to tell everything precisely, "since we already know everything anyway."
The two who had been arrested did not at first hear from Haller. It was not until the next day that it became clear that the politician had had the two caught in a trap. At first the greater assemblywoman disputed having known about the surveillance. Then she stumbled in her prevarications - until she admitted to having reported the meeting to the police. Today she says, "I assessed the activities of a foreign intelligence agent to be illegal and, in the exercise of my duty to report, I brought the meeting to the attention of the state attorney's office."
Odette J. thinks that is a lame excuse, "She simply took me for what she could get." Her attorney goes further: he views the Basel greater assemblywoman as an undercover woman who was operating on an assignment for the police. In support of that theory he has presented a shocking document - a confidential report by the federal police from April 2, 1998.
In it the meeting of Mrs. Haller, the "informant," with the state attorney's office, two police detectives and a federal police commissioner was described, "Mrs. Haller stated that Mrs. J. had approached her in confidence to seek advice about how she should deal with the request of the (German) Constitutional Security agent." According to the records, the greater assemblywoman demanded the authorities take action. In any case she said she would be "at the meeting the coming Monday."
That verifies that the law-and-order politician had set a trap for her comrade-in-arms instead of warning her about criminal dealings. She abused the trust of her fellow fighter and gave her own public relations work on aggressive sect recruitment a boost.
Odette J.s Attorney appealed the Basel decision
He accused the greater assemblywoman of being the one to turn the meeting into a criminal operation. Court President Christoph Meier did not see enough proof of Haller's action as an "agente provocatrice," but did mention instances of suspicion which could not be overlooked.
Confusion reigns in the anti-sect scene over the politician's motives. Was it stupidity? Maliciousness? Seeking recognition? The NZZ newspaper spoke of a "split role" and of "overenthusiasm" by the greater assemblywoman in her fight against sects. The "Basler Zeitung" supposed she had an "impenetrable personality." Jakob Winistoerfer, Basel SP President, also thinks that the affair is "absolutely not transparent." He said that Haller's actions were her own private matter. "But we will keep our distance from those obsessed with sect witch hunts."
In response to our inquiry, a member of the board of Infosekta said he had not been informed of Haller's action. "The board did not approve of the charges by the state attorney's office without letting Odette J. know." But he said he was determined to explain the open question "restore the level of confidence by doing so."
The politician herself communicated a statement on December 8 in the Basel Greater Assembly through state attorney Thomas Hug to her defense: it said Susanne Haller had been neither an undercover woman nor an "agente provocatrice." However the state attorney verified that she was in the picture on the case: "Before the meeting, Mrs. Haller received a rough orientation as to the impending police operation."
Scientology uses the affair
Susanne Haller still owes the "Beobachter" the answers to diverse questions - such as why she did not inform her female comrade about having told the police. She responded to the question of why she did not prevent the criminal behavior, "The meeting by itself was not criminal - not even for Odette J. It had not been planned to exchange documents. As greater assemblywoman, however, I had the duty to let somebody know."
As a German newspaper wrote about the spy antics, "Presumably the only ones who are popping champagne corks are the Scientologists."
Germany constitutional security agent in court in Switzerland
November 30, 1999
Basel (AP) A former agent of Baden-Wuerttemberg Constitutional Security stands before the court today in Basel, Switzerland.
The state attorney has charged him with "forbidden dealings for a foreign state," and "political intelligence service." The constitutional security agent had been arrested on April 6, 1998 in Basel after he had interviewed an informant about the Swiss Scientology sect there. According to the findings of Constitutional Security at the time, the southern Baden Scientologists were being directed from Basel. The informant is also before the court.
At the time he was apprehended, the official had been assigned to the State Office for Constitutional Security in order to help with the surveillance of the Scientology sect, which had been classified as a threat. After his apprehension, he made a confession and was released from detention on bail after the Baden-Wuerttemberg Interior Ministry had affirmed that he would take part in the hearings. Since then he has been working back with the police.
Chief witness for the Swiss state attorney's office is a Basel politician with whom the accused informant had made contact. The woman, who is critical of the methods used by Constitutional Security, had notified the state attorney's office four days before a planned meeting. However, she was said to have urged that the meeting be held in Basel, Switzerland. The German Baden-Wuerttemberg Constitutional Security office has concluded that their agent had been lured into a trap.
The German was not released from detention for three days, when he posted 25,000 Swiss franks (30,500 marks) bail. The case caused considerable disagreement between Bern and Stuttgart. Baden-Wuerttemberg's Interior Minister Thomas Schaeuble and Constitutional Security President Helmut Rannacher had apologized to the Swiss authorities for the case.
A judgment is expect in the course of the day.
Trial for Espionage
April 8, 1999
AP. The German Constitutional Security agent who was scouting for information on Scientology a year ago in Switzerland has to answer before the Basel criminal court on 1 July. The charges against the member of the Baden-Wuerttemberg Constitutional Security agency are illicit actions for a foreign country, political intelligence and counterfeit identification papers. He could receive up to six months confinement. The woman from Zurich who was cooperating with him has to answer on charges of political intelligence activity. In addition Scientology, pursuant to an appeal judgment, managed to see to it that the woman is also charged with violating data security.
Espionage proceedings postponed
June 22, 1999
Stuttgart/Basel (lsw/stn) - The proceedings against a former Constitutional Security agent from Stuttgart who is alleged to have illegally been gathering information on the controversial Scientology organization has been postponed. This was verified by the Stuttgart Interior Ministry on Monday. One of the participants in the process was said to be indisposed. Apparently this was a reference to the co-accused, Odette Jaccard. A source stated that the respected Swiss sect critic was seriously ill. The proceedings were to have begun on July 1. A new date has not yet been determined.
The charge is "political espionage." Jaccard is alleged to have handed over information on the Scientology organization, which had been directing its activities in Suedbaden [Germany] from Basel [Switzerland], to the Constitutional Security agent. He met with her in April 1998 in Basel, where he was arrested. Later he was released on bail. The man, who had been on loan to Constitutional Security from the police, has since then been transferred back to codes enforcement. At the time the case had caused quite a stir. State Interior Minister Thomas Schaeuble had officially apologized to Switzerland. He stated that the sovereignty of his neighboring country had been violated.
From: "Basler Zeitung"
May 27, 1998
BaZ/-bi. The federal government has concluded its investigation against the German constitutional protection agent, Peter Gobel (alias Goller). He was searching for information about Scientology, and was arrested in Basel for alleged political espionage (see BaZ of April 11 and May 2). The federal district attorney referred the case to the criminal investigative officials of Basel City Canton, as they said yesterday.
At the beginning of April the federal district attorney had instigated an investigative process against an official of the Baden Wurttemberg office of Constitutional Protection for prohibited intelligence activity and prohibited activity in a foreign state. The official, Peter Gobel, was suspected by a Swiss resident who resides in Zurich of gathering information about Scientology. Both of them were arrested in Basel after a meeting. The German official, who was released from custody after three days, was cooperative, according to the district attorney's office. Through the (late) announcement of the district attorney's office, press releases were denied, which stated that Gobel was arrested Rambo style by the Basel police and put into a pre-war cell. Detainment followed the arrest outside of Basel. Susanne Haller, the Basel counsel, who was asked to meet with Gobel at the Hotel Victoria, stated that she had not acted as an "agente provocatrice". The meeting had been planned in Basel, she asserted, which has been confirmed by the federal district attorney's office. After the meeting place had been determined, Susanne Haller had let the Basel state district attorney's office know.
The theory, whereby Gobel really wanted to meet the two Swiss women in Weil, but had been lured by Susanne Haller to Basel, may have been known by the German officials and repeated in order to qualify the espionage activity of a German Constitutional Protection agent in the sovereign territory of a friendly nation.
Scientology Critic Susanne Haller breaks her Silence
Between Traps and Treason
From: "Basler Woche"
May 15, 1998
Was Councilperson Susanne Haller to have been lured into a trap? Secret documents raise new questions about the visit of German intelligence agent, Peter Gobel
by Luc Burgin
"If I had not informed the District Attorney's Office about the planned meeting with the German intelligence agent, Peter Gobel, I would have relinquished my political mandate." Susanne Haller, Basel Council member and Scientology critic, takes the offensive. First she countered the accusations which the southern German press made against her. At the same time she made known the explosive details surrounding the arrest of the German intelligence agent, Peter Gobel, in Basel. Susanne Haller said, "Odette Jaccard, resident of Zurich, handed over a list of names of almost 2,000 Swiss people who were interested in Scientology to the intelligence agent."
Gobel handed a whole ream of secret Scientology documents over to her in Basel. Among them was a report on Scientology speaker Jurg Stettler. It was advance information on an operation and a letter from the Department of Special Affairs to a Basel Scientology group from March 12. It is still unclear what the German intelligence agent wanted to have done with this. Susanne Haller was hoping to find out in the upcoming legal proceedings.
Media campaign against Basel Scientology critic Susanne Haller
Receives "silent" blessings
Susanne Haller strikes back. For the first time the Basel council member and Scientology critic reveals all the details surrounding the arrest of the German intelligence agent, Peter Gobel. At the same time she explains why she informed the Basel district attorney's office in advance about the secret meeting, but not Odette Jaccard, her cohort from Zurich.
Susanne Haller states, "As council member I was obligated to inform the authorities."
by Luc Burgin
"The campaign of instigation against me, which was led by the south German press, has deeply troubled me." Susanne Haller wavers between anger and resignation. The fuss about the arrest of the German intelligence agent, Peter Gobel (code name: Peter Goller) has visibly shaken the Basel council member. Once again, the Scientology association is in the middle of the controversy.
Gobel was apprehended on April 6, 1998 immediately after an information meeting with Scientology critics Susanne Haller and Odette Jaccard in Basel. The grounds were "illicit activity for a foreign country." Susanne Haller had informed the district attorney's office in advance of the meeting about Gobel's appearance, since she judged that the activities of a foreign intelligence agent in Switzerland as well as the associated questioning of Swiss citizens were illegal.
Federal attorney Carla Del Ponte now leads the proceedings against Gobel and Jaccard on the Basel legal bench. Jaccard, the woman from Zurich, is suspected of political intelligence service. According to Thomas Hug, the primary Basel state attorney the specifications are still being held at the federal level. Hug presumes that the case will be assigned to Basel "in several weeks." Susanne Haller states, "I want the proceedings to take place as soon as possible. Not because of the judgment - I want vindication."
"Take down License Plate Numbers"
The council member revealed all details of the controversial meeting to the "Basler Woche" for the first time. She stated that Gobel was completely aware of the illegal nature of his visit. A meeting on German soil had never even been discussed. "He mentioned that this operation would be retroactively approved by his chief," she said.
In the Hotel Victoria, Gobel handed confidential Scientology documents over to her. "The documents had be sent to him anonymously, he claimed. He assigned us to note down license place numbers of participants in a Scientology meeting in Switzerland. Odette agreed enthusiastically. I was appalled."
Following that, the events overlapped each other. Odette Jaccard reached for her brief case. She wanted to give the agent a list of names of almost 2,000 Swiss Scientology people. She had already sent part of it electronically to Gobel. The Basel council woman intervened. She prevented the handing over of the documents and told the intelligence agent to leave. Neither Haller nor Jaccard knew of the ensuing arrest.
The state attorney attested in a letter on April 15, 1998, that Susanne Haller had handled everything in a legally proper manner. Despite that, the Scientology critic has found herself confronted with accusations, primarily from Germany, of having betrayed Peter Gobel and Odette Jaccard.
"As council member I was obligated to inform the authorities," the politician justified her actions. "I had no idea that I would be harassed by Odette. If I had known what consequence my actions would have had for her, I would have tried to prevent her from coming to the meeting." The question remains as to why the council member did not orient her Zurich colleague as to her actions. "I was so excited that I didn't give any thought to it in advance of the meeting. Besides, I had an idea that Odette had wanted to hand over information. I tried to prevent that. Therefore I had to be there."
Susanne Haller is still puzzled as to what Gobel really wanted from her. "Why did he suggest illegal activity to us? He must have known that I would have been risking my political mandate." The Social Democrat does not rule out the possibility that the action was meant to sabotage her. "My legal proposal against the aggressive recruitment by potential sect members on public land is soon coming up before Parliament. A ban [on aggressive recruitment] would hit Scientology where it hurts."
The confidential documents that Gobel gave to Susanne Haller show that his connections to Scientology could be far more complex than previously assumed. They included actual Scientology meeting minutes from Basel, which contained a discussion with a local representative. Several of the documents must have come out of the highest Scientology circles. The documents raise numerous questions. How did Gobel come to have them in his possession? Was it a coincidence that he received the material just before his meeting in Basel? Did Scientology know about Gobel's trip?
Susanne Haller hopes for answers in the upcoming proceedings. She has no more contact with Odette Jaccard. Jaccard's accusation of denunciation against her is partially understood by the council woman. However, she would not change anything if she had it to do all over again.
She has thrown everything she had into her work in the several weeks previous, states Susanne Hauer. However, she has been encouraged by support from friends and fellow council members. "Scientology is a classic example of how people can be made dependent. Because of that, it must be addressed - legally. I will not consider using other methods."
April 11, 1998
German Spy arrested in Switzerland
An agent of the Constitutional Protection Office of Baden-Wuerttemberg was arrested with false identification. He was gathering information about Scientology. He sat in a cell for four days. After the president of his office apologized to the Chief of Federal Police in Bern, and posted bail, the spy was let out of jail for Easter. The Swiss State Department had protested to the German ambassabor.
The business of spies and agents belongs to the most deceitful of relationships which nations have with each other. Almost all nations spy on almost every other nation, be it friend or foe. When a spy is caught, the uproar is tremendous. International incidents arise. Spies are sentenced, or spies are heroes. They are like soldiers. They have to be on the right side.
Stroebele works as an attorney and is a German Federal Assembly candidate for the Green Party in Kreuzberg.
April 9, 1998
On Monday a Germany State Security Official, who was researching Scientology matters, was arrested in Basel.
By Hugo Stamm
The security agent from Stuttgart observed, for the province of Baden-Wurttemberg, the American sect of Scientology in Germany. In order to form a picture of the activities of the Scientologists in Switzerland, he met last Monday with two Swiss informants in a restaurant in Basel. One of the informants told the "Tages-Anzeiger" that she had brought to the attention of the official the fact that his inquiries were illegal in Switzerland. The security agent had tried to allay her fears by telling her that his boss would straighten the matter out with Bern, and make the meeting retroactively legal.
After the meeting, the German official was arrested at the direction of the Basel District Attorney's Office, stated Federal Attorney Carla Del Ponte. He is being investigated on account of alleged illicit activity in a foreign state and because of [activity on behalf of a] political intelligence service. The security agent has a second residence in Switzerland. It is predicted that he will soon be let out of detention, Del Ponte stated.
Both of the Scientology experts were brought in by the federal police and questioned. One informant, who had handed over a couple of Scientology brochures to the security agent, was brought to Bern where a statement was taken from her by the Federal prosecutor. Carla Del Ponte was already well informed, said the lady. She presumed that the security agent had already given exhaustive information at his questioning.
"I told Mrs. Ponte that the Swiss authorities were asleep in matters of Scientology. For this reason she had no objections to being a little helpful to the German security agent," the informant told the DA. Then she was released.
Six Police searched building
On Tuesday afternoon, six policepersons stood at her door with a search warrant from the Federal District Attorney's office, and searched her residence. They confiscated her computer, various diskettes, and a modem. This mobilization over such a trifle was completely overdone, stated the woman. Besides which she did not understand why she had to answer practically the same questions a third time. Carla Del Ponte did not rule out charging the Scientology informant for [acting on behalf of] political intelligence service.
In the meantime, a political after-effect has already taken place. The Baden-Wurttemberg Secretary of the Interior has apologized to Bern. Also the Federal Department of the Interior is involved with the matter. A comment was still not available on Wednesday evening.