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L. Ron Hubbard blamed for spying on 'enemies'

Title: L. Ron Hubbard blamed for spying on 'enemies'
Date: Monday, 27 April 1992
Publisher: Toronto Star (Canada)
Author: Bruce DeMara
Main source: link (88 KiB)

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In the summer of 1973, dedicated Scientologist Bryan Levman left the yacht of church founder L. Ron Hubbard with a new title and a mandate he believed allowed him to infiltrate police agencies and steal government files.

For three years, Levman oversaw a series of covert intelligence operations as deputy guardian for Canada, aimed at attacking the "enemies" of Scientology, founded by Hubbard in the mid-1950s.

Levman left the church in 1976 in some disillusionment — "it didn't deliver what it promised" — but wasn't officially cast out until 1983.

In March that year, 100 Ontario Provincial Police officers raided the church's offices, removing cartons of files and papers.

A year later, Levman found his past returning to haunt him.

Levman, 44, is the first witness in a mammoth trial that began last week and is expected to last three months.

Five members — and the church itself — are facing breach of trust charges in connection with the intelligence-gathering operation.

Friday, in his third day on the stand, Levman defended his own decision, and that of other ex-church members, to seek immunity from prosecution by testifying against their former colleagues.

"It had come to our attention that Scientology was trying to blame all these things on us, and we felt cornered, I felt cornered.

"I felt I had to do something to protect myself," Levman said.

Levman, under tough cross-examination by defence lawyer Clayton Ruby, admitted he authorized various illegal acts, including break-ins of government and private lawyers' offices and planting agents in law enforcement agencies.

[Picture / Caption: SCIENTOLOGY TRIAL Defence lawyer Clayton Ruby (left) has warned Jury to "keep an open mind" about the Church of Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard.]

Ruby made it clear from his opening statement last Tuesday that he thought five witnesses, including Levman — all of whom were granted immunity — should be sitting in the defendant's box.

"These wretched people captured this church — for a time," Ruby said.

Levman acknowledged, under Ruby's questioning, that the five defendants were underlings who received their instructions through him.

The court has already heard Levman relate how Scientology members made unauthorized copies of government and police files, usually through a "plant" or agent who obtained a job in the office.

Other members, he said, were engaged in "rip-offs," entering the offices of government and private lawyers to copy files and obtain information.

But Levman laid the blame for his actions and others on church policy, and at the door of its founder.

"Hubbard said you defend Scientology from your enemies. He has a share of the blame for Scientology coming to where it has today," Levman said.

"I was responsible — but clearly not solely responsible, or more responsible than any of my staff — as were my seniors in Scientology, right up to the top," Levman said.

"It was my job. I felt I was doing my part to save the planet, to use Scientology terminology," Levman said.

But Levman made it clear that, though he may have received immunity, the case has left him and his wife, Rose Marie, far from being unscathed.

"This is extremely difficult for me . . . because of the notoriety, the things I did in my youth, because of my former allegiance to an organization I have no particular desire to attack, because of their view of me," he said.

The second major issue of the case is that charges have been laid against the Church of Scientology of Toronto itself.

"There has never been a criminal charge brought before a jury against a church itself anywhere in the Western world. Individuals who have committed crimes in connection with their churches — yes — but never the church," Ruby said.

The defence's contention is that the illegal acts were directed by Scientology's guardian's office worldwide and its local counterpart, a separate entity from the church's daily operations.

Layman has bolstered that contention, testifying the guardian's office conducted its activities secretly, not informing members of the local Scientology chapter.

This case comes more than 10 years after U.S. authorities began a lengthy, and eventually successful, prosecution against the guardian's office there in the late 1970s.

Ten people were eventually convicted, including Hubbard's wife (now his widow) Mary Sue, known as the controller and second-in-command behind Hubbard, and Jane Kember, the guardian worldwide, who was extradited from England to face trial.

(The guardian's office and all its local branches have since been disbanded, church officials say.)

Copyright 1992 Toronto Star, All Rights Reserved.