Church of Scientology Threatens Wikileaks Over Publication of Church "Bibles"

Wikileaks, which purports to provide an "uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis," is back in the news as it faces a new legal threat from the Church of Scientology. On March 26, Wikileaks published what it describes as a full unedited version of the Church of Scientology's Operating Thetan documents. It says that while some portions of the "bibles" of Scientology have been previously leaked, this is the first time the entire 612-page document had been made public.

On March 28, 2008, a lawyer for the Religious Technology Center (RTC), the entity that holds the copyright in the Church's writings and religious materials, sent an email to Wikileaks alleging copyright infringement. The email complained that an unknown Wikileaks user had posted certain "Advanced Technology" works belonging to the Church on the Wikileaks site. It demanded that Wikileaks remove the allegedly infringing material and requested that the website "preserve any and all documents pertaining to this matter and this customer, including . . . logs, data entry sheets, applications . . ., registrations, forms, billing statements or invoices, computer print-outs, disks, hard drives, etc."

Leaving no doubt about its position on the matter, Wikileaks issued a press release on April 7, 2008, in which it stated it "will not comply with legally abusive requests from Scientology any more than Wikileaks has complied with similar demands from Swiss banks, London Banks, Russian off-shore stem cell centers, former African Kleptocrats, or the Pentagon." Wikileaks also sharply criticized Scientology's history of litigation aimed at keeping its documents out of the public eye, arguing that the controversial religious group "aids and abets a general climate of Western media self-censorship."

(You can follow further developments in the case in our Legal Threats Database entry: Religious Technology Center v. Wikileaks.)

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