|$cientology versus Keith HensonPage 1 of 1 |
Henson has become one of the focal points of the ongoing struggle between the Church of Scientology and its critics, often referred to as Scientology versus the Internet. Henson is a staunch critic of Scientology; in response, the Church has repeatedly declared that Henson is a criminal and a terrorist.
Henson entered the Scientology battle when it was at its most heated, in the mid-1990s. In 1996, many of Scientology's "secret writings" (see Scientology beliefs and practices) were released onto the Internet, and Scientology embarked on a massive worldwide campaign to keep them from being spread to the general public. Henson examined these writings, entitled New Era Dianetics (known as NOTS in Scientology, and to the organization's critics), and from his examination of these "secret" documents, he claimed that Scientology was committing medical fraud.
The NOTS documents, he said, contained detailed instructions for the treatment of physical ailments and illnesses through the use of Scientology practices. However, a Supreme Court decision in 1971 had declared that Scientology's writings were meant for "purely spiritual" purposes, and all Scientology books published since then have included disclaimers stating that Scientology's E-meter device "does nothing" and does not cure any physical ailments (United States v. Founding Church of Scientology et al., US District Court, District of Columbia 333 F. Supp. 357, July 30, 1971 ). The NOTS procedures, Henson claimed, were a violation of this decision. To prove his claim, Henson posted two pages from the NOTS documents onto the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.
The Church of Scientology immediately threatened to sue Henson, but he did not back down from his claims. Immediately afterwards, Henson was served with a lawsuit by the church's legal arm, the Religious Technology Center, (RTC). Henson defended himself in order to avoid the massive legal costs incurred in a Scientology lawsuit (see Scientology and the Legal System). After a lengthy court battle involving massive amounts of paperwork, Henson was found guilty of copyright infringement. He was ordered to pay $75,000 in fines, an amount trumpeted by the church as the largest copyright damages award ever levied against an individual. However, it is estimated that the organization spent a total of about $2 million in litigation against Henson.
Henson declared bankruptcy in response to the judgment, though the church dogged him through every step of the filing process. Henson began protesting Scientology regularly, standing outside of Scientology's film studio, the Gold Base, with a picket sign. The organization sought assistance from the authorities; Henson was arrested, and subsequently brought on trial for criminal charges.
Ken Hoden, the general manager of Golden Era Productions (the Church of Scientology's film production facility), claimed Henson was a stalker with extensive background in explosives. (According to LA Weekly, Henson worked in the 1970s for a geophysics company in Arizona. During that time, Henson arranged pyrotechnic parties in the desert which have been described as "similar to Burning Man".) Hoden compared Henson to Timothy McVeigh. "Based on evidence we were able to collect off the Internet, his intention was to destroy [Golden Era Productions, the Church of Scientology's film production facility] utterly, to leave not one stone unturned." However, Sheriff’s Detective Tony Greer, Riverside County lead investigator, said: "In reviewing all of the Internet postings I did not see any direct threat of violence towards the church or any personnel of the church."
Hoden also claimed that Scientology's prosecution of Henson had nothing to do with Scientology's Fair Game policy, claiming that no such policy existed. Twelve years before Hoden's statement, however, the Church had claimed in Wollersheim v. the Church of Scientology that Fair Game was a constitutionally protected "core practice" of Scientology, which the appellate court denied.
Henson was charged with three misdemeanors by California Law: making terrorist threats, attempting to make terrorist threats (California Penal Code, section 11418.5), and making threats to interfere with freedom to enjoy a constitutional privilege. During the course of the case, the prosecution filed several successful motions in limine to exclude substantive portions of Henson's attempted defense, including testimony from other protesters about their encounters, a former scientologist about the organization, and the opinion (above) of Tony Greer; mention of the Fair Game practice for the purpose of impeaching prosecution witnesses; mention of the prior events at that compound which formed the basis of Henson's protest; or evidence of the context of the messages wherein the alleged threats were made.
The jury verdict of the trial resulted in Henson being convicted of one of the three charges: "interfering with a religion." This charge carried a prison term of six months. On the other two charges, the jury did not agree.
Henson, who had been pursued relentlessly by the church since the original lawsuit over three years previous, stated his belief that if he went to prison, his life would be placed in jeopardy. Rather than serve his sentence, Henson chose to enter Canada and apply for political asylum. Henson lived quietly in Brantford for three years while he awaited the decision. His request was ultimately denied and, in 2005, he was ordered to present himself for deportation and transfer to US authorities. Instead, Henson fled to the Unites States and later presented himself to the Canadian consulate in Detroit. He then settled in Prescott, Arizona where he remained for two years until his recent arrest by Arizona authorities.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as Henson's supporters on the USENET newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, claim his trial was biased, unfair and a mockery of justice. Henson was prohibited by the trial judge, for example, from arguing that copying documents for the purpose of criticism is fair use.
 Current status
 Ontario, Canada (2001-2005)
Henson lived in Brantford, Ontario from 2001 to 2005 and worked as an electronics engineer. After spending three years there, Henson was finally notified that a decision had been reached on his application. He was instructed to appear in person at a meeting on September 14, 2005, to learn what the decision was. The implication was that a negative decision would result in his being deported back to the US by Canadian law enforcement.
"I'm not going to be shoved across the border into the hands of Scientologists," Henson said last week as he began packing. "I'll go to the border somewhere else, hand in my papers and disappear, preferably to a state where you can legitimately shoot bounty hunters."
Citing concern over his personal safety in such an event (since Scientology might find out the handover time and place), Henson chose to instead quietly leave Brantford the previous night. He notified the Canadian government by fax that he had left Canada of his own accord.
 Arizona (2007)
This article documents a current event.
Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.
Henson's location as of February 3, 2007 was the Yavapai Detention Center in Prescott, Arizona, awaiting possible extradition to Riverside County, California. Henson has previously received death threats to the effect that he would be killed while serving his sentence. At the "initial appearance" hearing on Monday, February 5, 2007, Henson stated through counsel  that he is fighting extradition and requested release. Judge Lindberg set a future court date for March 5, 2007 at 1:30 pm in the Prescott Justice Court, and fixed the security for his release at $7,500 cash or bond, with standard conditions.
Shortly after setting the bond amount, the Riverside County District Attorney, via the Yavapai County Attorney, motioned the court to deny bond, stating, "It is the People's belief that If Keith Henson is allowed to be released on bond that he will not appear in court. Therefore, the People would respectfully request that Keith Henson not be allowed on bond and continue in custody pending the issuance of the Governor’s Warrant,"  causing the court to raise the bond to $500,000.
During a hastily arranged and telephonic hearing, Henson's attorney objected to the dramatically increased bond, as the allegation was a mere misdemeanor (contrasted with the fugitive warrant which claimed Henson was wanted on felonies, and the motion which omitted the offense classification). After the County Attorney confirmed that the charge was indeed a misdemeanor, during a follow-up telephonic hearing, the County Attorney agreed that the $7,500 bond was sufficient to assure Keith's appearance at the March 5, 2007 hearing, but the court granted a defense motion to lower the bond to $5,000. Henson's release on bond was secured at around 7:30 pm.
The Extropy Institute has set up a legal fund, entitled: "Henson Legal Support Fund", to help with Henson's defense.
A list of written, radio and media accounts of Keith Henson's plight:
Electronic Frontier Foundation Concerned US Court Violated Free Speech Rights
LA Weekly Article on Keith Henson June 22, 2001
LA Weekly Article Scientology, cont. By News Staff Wednesday, May 20, 1998
Unorthodox Arrest, Enzo Di Matteo, NOW Magazine, June 7-13, 2001.
Scientology Critic Convicted -- Apr. 27, 2001 Wired article on Henson's conviction
Vince Daniels Show on K.C.A.A. 1050 AM Los Angeles February 3, 2007
US Scientology critic free in Canada, Article by The Register in June 2001
On the run from L. Ron Hubbard, Article written by Salon.com in May 2001
Scientology Critic Flees U.S. Over Usenet Posts, Pickets; Article written by Slashdot May 2001
Here is Keith Henson's main page
Here is a wikipedia page about Henson
notes on the Henson trial and its "irregularities" following a filed amicus
Hopefully people will keep an eye on this as it develops. But it should make you ask yourself some very serious questions...look at the words...convicted...flee...what sort of power is being brough to bear against someone if they criticize a so-called religion in America. This is a religion now membered by some of the more (well formerly LOL) popular Hollywood celebrities one might add.
|$cientology versus Keith Henson|
Posted: 5/8/2008 12:11:40 AM
|This is really old news, but just to clarify as there seemed to be a great deal of confusion over the subject of the OT I will spell it out in more definite terms. While Henson was clearly guilty of copywright infringement as he did not provide sufficient critique of the material he posted to the internet, nor did he excerpt but printed the complete material, the questions are, do the events surrounding the trial and the nature of the response show a case of serial and egregious harassment by the church of Scientology against one of its critics and show that this is part of established behaviour against its critics.|
Reading the documentation of all of the events that occur to Henson, pre, during and post trial, it is hard not to come to that conclusion. It seems to be part of a recurring pattern of targetted smear levelled against any critic of the Church of $cientology. If they are indeed a constitutionally protected, legitimate religion, as has been stated many times, why the inordinate reaction against critics and then denial of such actions? Why violation of the law in countries such as Canada where they were clearly convicted and charged with federal criminal offenses?
Or better still an organization that had high ranking members engage in "a series of infiltrations and thefts from 136 government agencies, foreign embassies and consulates, as well as private organizations critical of Scientology, carried out by Church members; the single largest infiltration of the United States government in history with up to 5,000 covert agents."
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Snow_White (Eleven highly-placed Church executives, including Mary Sue Hubbard (wife of founder L. Ron Hubbard and second-in-command of the organization), pleaded guilty or were convicted in federal court of obstructing justice, burglary of government offices, and theft of documents and government property.)
Many other religions face harsh criticism. No others that I am aware of retaliate with a battery of lawyers, private investigators who stalk you, and campaigns of attack on individuals...
Well except maybe certain branches of fundamentalist Islam...but they at least don't deny how they feel about you and what they intend to do to you about it...have to admire the chutzpah if not the morality.
Henson is out now, serving 2+ years of probation, not for the copywright violation (which bankrupted him), but for "interfering with a religion". His crimes include typing the word "Cruise missile" referring to Tom Cruise. Most of his 4 months served of 6 was in solitary.
YTMND on Keith Henson:
Information on Keith Henson:
|$cientology versus Keith Henson|
Posted: 7/7/2008 10:02:41 PM
|For some really great additional resources on $cientology see:|
Videos by YouTube user ToryMagoo44 (She's a former member of 30 years, was John Travolta's auditor, and then escaped in 2000)
www.rickross.com (one of the nation's leading cult de-programmers)
http://www.radaronline.com/from-the-magazine/2008/03/scientology_anonymous_protests_tom_cruise_01.php (Radar Magazine's expose on $cientology)