Yesterday Belgian prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen recommended criminal charges of fraud and extortion for the U.S.-based Church of Scientology. He said that the results of a ten-year investigation show that the church should be labeled a criminal organization.
The prosecutor says that the church’s Brussels office and Belgian missions conduct unlawful practice of medicine, violate privacy laws, and use illegal business contracts. The church claims that the prosecutor has been using the media to damage its reputation.
Although Scientology has been active in Belgium for almost 30 years, it is not officially recognized as a religious group there. In 1997, a Belgian parliamentary committee labeled it a “sect” and ordered an investigation of the church’s finances and practices.
Complaints have been filed with the police by ex-members of Scientology, saying that they were victims of intimidation and extortion.