FRANKFURT, Germany -- The Church of Scientology branch in Germany has launched a legal effort to declare surveillance by government security agencies unconstitutional.
Scientology filed suits with state courts in Berlin and Cologne against Germany's federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, asking that continued monitoring of Scientologists be outlawed.
Since 1997, 15 of Germany's 16 states have monitored Scientologists on suspicion that the group is a cult with purely economic interests that endangers democracy by trying to infiltrate governments and companies.
The Scientologists, with 6,000 German members, insist they are a religious organization. The church maintains that surveillance is "based on no facts and abuses Scientologists' rights to freedom of religion."