Spain Acquits Scientologists of Conspiracy

Associated Press

A Spanish court has acquitted 15 members and employees of the Church of Scientology of charges of criminal conspiracy, closing a case dating back to 1984.

Prosecutors had brought additional charges, which included tax fraud and endangering public health, but after the trial began in February, the Madrid Provincial Court threw out all but the conspiracy charge.

On Monday, the court rejected that charge as well.

It said there was no evidence to support prosecutors' allegations that drug rehabilitation and other programs sponsored by the group in Spain amounted to illicit gatherings aimed at activities such as bilking people of money.

"This is a complete victory for the Church of Scientology and Scientologists in Spain, and a vindication of our religious ministry and social betterment programs," said Luis Gonzalez, spokesman for the organization.

The Church of Scientology has 10,000 members in Spain.

It is officially classified as a lay association with religious goals, not as a church.

It does not have tax-exempt status as it does in the United States.

Scientology was founded in 1954 by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who taught that technology can expand the mind and solve problems.

It claims nearly 9 million members worldwide.

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