France’s highest court upheld several convictions against the Church of Scientology, finding the church guilty of organized fraud for taking advantage of vulnerable believers, and targeting them for financial gain.
On Wednesday, Oct. 16, the Cour de Cassation in Paris, France's highest appeals court, upheld several convictions against the Church of Scientology for "organized fraud." The court found that Scientologists were guilty of pressuring members into paying large amounts of money for questionable services and materials.
The court also found that the church used ‘‘commercial harassment’’ against Scientology recruits.
The French branch of the Church of Scientology, its bookstore and five of its leaders were originally found guilty of of taking advantage of vulnerable believers in 2009. The original ruling imposed fines of over 600,000 euros on the church and bookstore. Five church leaders were also convicted and received suspended two-year prison terms and hefty fines.
The church, founded in 1952 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, claims 10 million members, including celebrity members Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Juliette Lewis.
From their Los Angeles headquarters, the church claimed the court ruling was "an affront to justice and religious liberty," in a statement that accused the French government of "anti-religious extremism". The church promised to pursue the matter "at the international level."
While Scientology is considered to be a religion in the United States and other European countries, it is considered to be a cult in France.