40 Scientology Leaders From 7 Countries Detained in Spain

Source: Los Angeles Times
Date: November 21, 1988

Forty leaders of the Church of Scientology from seven countries face charges of extortion, forgery and tax offenses after police raids, a judicial source said today.

Herbert Hebertch of Los Angeles, 53, worldwide director of the church, was among the 69 suspects detained Sunday during an international scientology congress at a luxury hotel in downtown Madrid. Of those arrested, 29 were released today, court sources said.

Among those being held were Scientology leaders from the United States, Portugal, Denmark, Venezuela, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

Police also shut down 26 of the group's offices across Spain on Sunday and seized bundles of documents.

The widespread police action culminated nine months of undercover investigation during which 30 telephone taps were installed, examining magistrate Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia said.

Charges against the church include falsification of public documents, extortion, tax evasion and capital flight.

At least one alleged kidnaping of a teen-ager was also under investigation, Vazquez Honrubia said.

The Church of Scientology was founded in the 1960s by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Its activities in Spain center on a drug rehabilitation program known as Narconon and a spiritual group called the Civil Dianetic Assn.

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