With reference to what BF reposted from mnql1 earlier....
Epic interview begins.....
The entrance to the Turin headquarters of the church,
located in a former recording studio on Via Bersezio.The Secret Archive on Scientology's EnemiesA former member of the American cult reveals how the organization collects extremely private information. "They have files on Luciano Violante and Prof. Luigi Ciotti."
Hundreds of files concerning Scientology followers and other persons who have come into contact in some way with the church founded by Ron Hubbard. The files contain sensitive data, from sexuality to health, and are stored in the archives on Via Bersezio. Whoever buys or agrees to be subjected to any kind of self-analysis, even when it's done using an electronic device, signs (or should sign) a consent form authorizing the specified persons to conduct the tests (and preserve the relevant data) for the stated purpose. But this is a little-explored gray area. In the Scientology archives, even the files of persons who have left the organization years earlier are kept. And this, in theory at least, may lead to violations of the rules governing the protection of privacy.Interview
Niccolò ZancanA Repentant Former Turin Scientologist Speaks Out
"I worked for eight years at the Turin Church of Scientology. I thought I was doing something good. I dedicated myself entirely, losing friends and jobs. It was not easy to get out. When I found the strength to say so, after a long period of submission and fear, I was threatened. They immediately erased the memory of my computer. They explained that they keep records of my secrets and also of my crimes. To be honest, I would not like this to be used against me, but I can no longer remain silent. I know I have harmed many people. I acted in a disgusting manner. I have memories that keep me awake at night. For years we squeezed money and confidential information out of people."
We can say almost nothing about the person who spoke these words. He is a man who is about 50 years old and still feels the weight of his experience. He held high positions at the organization's Turin headquarters, a direct offshoot of the cult invented in the United States in 1954 by Ron Hubbard and propelled throughout the world. He agreed to speak with La Stampa after a tormenting struggle with his thoughts. This is what he had to say.What do you mean by "squeeze money and confidential information"?
"We collected the most intimate confessions from many people. There are several archives at 7 Via Bersezio which contain folders with a name written at the top. There is also a secret archive with files concerning the enemies of Scientology, but I think it is hidden in a safe place. Probably at the home of persons who are complicit."Who are the enemies of Scientology?
"I remember that investigations were commissioned concerning Mr. Luciano Violante [a politician], Prof. Luigi Ciotti, and a magistrate in Milan. And also about a father who was trying to free his daughter. The method was always the same. You have to look for crimes. Dig into the past and into the shadowy areas. The recurring phrase was: 'Look for the enemies of our enemies.' Anything to make them desist from attacking. I know that in some cases, they also paid private investigators."So there are 2 categories: the followers and the enemies. Let's start with the first one. How is the problem of the treatment of personal data dealt with?
"They only recently introduced a kind of consent form. They make all persons who wish to undergo auditing sign it. Auditing is a kind of religious confession, where you write the date, place, and description, in as much detail as possible, of the things you did in the past. Even crimes. Political and sexual preferences."When is the signature requested?
"When you submit the registration form for major services. The services of Scientology are divided into two parts. Smaller ones cost little. Those that are dispensed in the academy cost significantly more. It starts at 1,800 euros. To take this type of course, a person signs, usually without reading it, a registration form. So you know or should know that the church will use your information. You know it will be stored and accessed only by trusted personnel. You also know that, at your request, you can get it back. But things aren't that simple."Can you explain in what sense?
"I remember the case of a person who received his information at home in an anonymous envelope. He was very worried: he liked dressing in women's clothing. He wanted his file back. But our superior wanted us to photocopy everything."When did you begin?
"In Turin, the record-keeping has been going on for at least twenty years. I repeat: there is an archive for people who have simply bought a book, with nearly 20 thousand names, accessible to everyone. There is another, held under lock, with records concerning staff and persons who do auditing. And then there are those concerning the 'special operations'."When is a special file called for?
"When a person becomes a potential enemy. Confidential information is used to blackmail the person. When the enemy is an outsider, work begins to produce a file. Following people, gathering information on the internet, meetings with old acquaintances, bugs."Can you give a specific case?
"Mr. Luciano Violante is considered an enemy because he publicly attacked Scientology. They tried to fool him by sending a fake journalist to interview him. Then they pasted together statements that he made in a video called "The Inconvenient Truth". I think someone kept a copy. Prof. Luigi Ciotti, on the other had, has been "studied" because he publicly criticized Scientology's Narconon rehabilitation centers."Who gives the order for a file?
"Everything that gets done at the Turin Church of Scientology is translated, discussed and examined in advance in the United States. It is an enormous pyramidal structure. The heads in Turin talk with America, then they act accordingly. There is a telex line that connects all the organizations in the world. The founder of Scientology is very clear. Anyone who attacks the church has crimes. He says: "Find the crimes and expose them." This is what we've always done. Over a period of six years, I saw at least 15 confidential files be commissioned.Can you give another case?
"A woman magistrate working for the prosecutor's office in Milan, but originally from Torino: very thorough research was conducted about her. They looked for her graduate thesis, spoke with her enemies, studied the contracts she gave out, and discovered many interesting things."How are the files used?
"Sometimes simply to know information about the individual concerned. In other cases, they resort to disclosure. Fliers are distributed. I saw a case where a custom newspaper was printed. I saw a case where a website was created. The aim is to smash the enemy to convince them to back down from attacking."Who does this work, physically?
"Until a few years ago in Turin, there was a person who was responsible for this. He had a post called 'Information and data analysis officer'. It was the same person who had to go salvage those who 'blow' - the Scientologists who flee from Scientology without following procedures. They have no scruples, but they are always very careful."What do you mean?
"I know a person who attacked them publicly, but he was naive and his identity was discovered. They opened a website where they posted all his sexual information - he has a few deviations - along with full names and mobile phone numbers. When this person confronted them about this, they feigned astonishment. He was unable to prove their responsibility. They act with caution. They often consult a lawyer. They have no financial problems. In Italy there is a parallel association created for the sole purpose of making money to pay Scientology's lawyers and investigators. It collects 80,000 euros a week, every week of the year."
Now we come to the financial aspect. How is money squeezed out of people?
"There are two well-defined ways to advance in Scientology. Persons who join staff devote all their time to the church and to working within the organization; they pay with their labor for the services they receive. The other way is the public approach and is more expensive. People pay for services and go to the church only to receive training and auditing. There is a specific price list. The first level of major services is called the 'purif'. It's a program of saunas, exercise, and vitamins which lasts two weeks and costs 2,000 euros. Then you go to the next level. For example, Grade IV can cost 3,957 euros.What is the goal of those who enroll?
"Scientology portrays its path as a bridge to total freedom. The goal is to become a 'clear'."What work does the staff do?
"They have to sell Scientology. There is an official selling technique. They first hook people through the tests they give at the table on Via Garibaldi. Then it's all a matter of luck, so to speak. If you meet a good recruiter who's well-spoken and can find what is called 'your ruin', then you're doomed."What is 'a ruin'?
"It's what's messing up your life. Scientology seeks it systematically. It's not easy to find, but Scientologists are trained for this. And when they find your ruin, you're completely exposed. At that point you would give anything. You confess and they write it all down, always."How many people go to Scientology in Turin?
"There is a circle of about seven hundred people. It's like a revolving door. The average tenure of a staff member is 3 or 4 years."Who are the staff?
"People who believe, exactly as I was believer. They are poor, exploited. Many ask their parents for money, others live twenty in a single apartment. They live as though they were missionaries. But the difference is that a missionary won't ask you for $3,000 to give you the word of God."How much was the revenue in Turin?
"About 35,000 euros a week on average. Over one million a year. The money is redistributed like this: they pay for materials, then there is a quota for the American management, a quota taken from the top, but I don't know how much. Then they pay for electricity, gas, water, rent, mortgage. The remaining 30 per cent is paid to staff. A manager receives 70 pay units, a subordinate receives 40. In practice, the average pay for the 30 staff members is 50 euros a week."How are financial matters decided?
"There isn't a true formal contract governing wages. In reality, they make you sign an application to collaborate with the Church of Scientology, which divides its income among its associates. If you leave staff before the end of your term, they make you pay for the courses you did for free. They have an accountant. He enters the enormous sum that goes to America in a line item labeled 'payment of royalties'. Scientology recently bought a small industrial complex in the Rivoli area called the Artigianelli. I'm unable to say with what money."Why did you decide to speak out?
"Because I am ashamed of what I did."Are you afraid?
"Not much in the case of the Italian parts of the organization. The problem is America. I saw the obsession in the eyes of some Scientologists. In the United States, there are various followers who died in absurd circumstances. I recently opened a website anonymously to try to help people who have problems with Scientology. It's not much, but it's all I can do."