Scientology Leader, 10 Others, Freed on Bail in Spain
The president of the Church of Scientology and 10 other members arrested in an investigation of alleged fraud and tax evasion have been released on more than $1 million bail, their lawyer said Sunday.
A judge’s order releasing church President Heber Jentzsch, an American, and the others came Saturday after facts were presented that “corrected” some allegations against the group, said the lawyer, Jose Luis Chamorro.
Jentzsch, 53, a native of Salt Lake City, lives in Los Angeles.
Judge Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia set bail at $650,000 for Jentzsch and at a total of $430,000 for the others.
On Dec. 5, the judge had said he would not grant bail and that he had at least three months to file formal charges against Jentzsch.
The 11 were among 71 people arrested Nov. 20 after a nine-month probe ordered by Vazquez Honrubia, who says Narconon, a church-linked drug rehabilitation program, swindled its clients and lured them into Scientology.
Authorities also have frozen $1.76 million in bank accounts belonging to officials of the church and Narconon because Vazquez Honrubia says the money was not declared to tax authorities.
After questioning the 71 people arrested in the raid, Vazquez Honrubia expelled 10 foreigners and released 50 others.
Chamorro said those released Saturday must appear before the judge three times a week as part of the bail conditions accepted after hearing arguments by a six-man team of Spanish lawyers.
Scientology officials in Madrid said Jentzsch has nothing to do with church finances and could not have committed any crimes in Spain because he had never been in the country before November.
The other 10 members released Saturday are American Gerald Finn, a South African man, a Portuguese woman and seven Spaniards, three of them women, Chamorro said, declining to give further information on those released.
The Church of Scientology, founded in the 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard, an American science fiction author and former U.S. Navy officer, is based on Hubbard’s 1949 book, “Dianetics: the modern science of mental health.”
Followers strive toward a “clear state” by using a lie detector-type device called an “E-Meter,” coupled with exercise and counseling.