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Church of Scientology under fire for slave claims

World Events

Church of Scientology under fire for slave claims

Jorge Hernandez February 8, 2011

The Church of Scientology is under investigation by the FBI for allegations of human trafficking, imprisonment and psychological abuse, in what has experientially been described by ex-members as control tactics to prevent followers from quitting the institution.

Pulitzer-prize winning author Lawrence Wright prompted the investigation after he published claims made by church defectors in the New Yorker magazine, the U.K.'s Telegraph reports.

Wright detailed ex-member and filmmaker Paul Haggis' accounts of church leader David Miscavige's expectations that "Scientology leaders…instill aggressive, even violent, discipline" at the base. In extreme cases, members were sent to "The Hole," a confinement area where forced confessions, physical violence, manual labor and blacklisting ensued.

"I was in a cult for 34 years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't," Haggis said in the New Yorker article.

Wright reported that those who "failed to fulfill their ecclesiastical responsibilities" were sent to "punitive re-education camps."

According to the Telegraph, Miscavige has denied charges of physical abuse toward staff and members and has also been accused of an extravagant lifestyle replete with personal chefs and multiple cars, as it is illegal for the leader of a tax-exempt organization to receive perks and high wages.

Celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise has also denied accusations of effectively paying a church member $50 a day for the equivalent of thousands of dollars of labor on his motorcycles, MyFoxDC.com reports.

The church issued a statement that said the claims were "little more than a regurgitation of old allegations that have long been disproved" and that "the Church has never been advised of any government investigation," the Telegraph reports.