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Anonymous on Trial? Scientology Steps Up Skirmish
More members of Anonymous are finding out the real costs of doing battle with Scientology.
04/1/08
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A Church spokesperson recently denied that "lawyers" were visiting the members of the Guy Fawkes-masked Thetan-addled Church antagonists. But Radar has discovered several incidents in which representatives of law firms have delivered some form of legal letters to suspected Anons, often at their homes. Get that? The "lawyers" from the firms are not themselves hand-delivering the letters, making the Scientology spokesperson's claim technically right, though practically a lie. Besides, it's the lawyers for Scientology-hired firms that have been slapping their names on the delivered documents and DVD packages. Firms like Latham & Watkins or Johnson Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns. At least one Latham & Watkins letter was signed by David J. Schindler, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the criminally mischievous nerd any self-respecting hacker wannabe worships, Kevin Mitnick.

And while younger, greener members have been getting mere multimedia threat packages, one Boston organizer for Anonymous found himself slapped with a summons to appear at an April 16 hearing on charges of trespassing and criminal harassment (which, interestingly, requires that the harassment occur against and individual, not a church). "Gregg" as he asked to be called, has pulled permits and done things like pick up trash after Anonymous' real world rallies, he says. Along the way, he's kept his nose free of anything remotely illegal, he insists, and even notified his probation officer of every move he made with Anonymous—he's a few weeks shy of wrapping up probation for what he says were "white collar crimes." "I was a dumb kid and made some mistakes.... This is one of the reasons they've chosen to come after me."

A constable (a sort of process server) recently delivered Gregg the summons at his home. The name of the complainant on the application is Michael J. McCormack. A lawyer in Boston by the same name did not immediately respond to Radar requests for clarification. Both incidents, Gregg tells Radar, likely stem not from act of terrorism, vandalism, or violence, as the Church has accused, but from a recent flyering mission he and a group of Anons went on to advertise upcoming protests. When they reached the Beacon Street Church of Scientology itself, they decided to hand flyers out there, too. "We all thought that it's a church; it's not illegal to walk up to a church. And if they want some copies of the fliers we are giving out to the Greater Boston area, then they can take them. If not, they can ask us to leave," Gregg tells Radar. "They indeed took them then asked us to go. We left the second they asked. I was NOT one of the Anonymous members who went in the door. I stayed outside on the steps." (Gregg insists the whole thing is on video, from two different angles, though we have yet to view it.) "After they asked us to leave, we wished them a good day and left and continued flyering."

Gregg, who says he has a bank balance of $-292 and $11 cash, will defend himself, though he's set up a paypal defense fund at greggatghc@gmail.com. A few 10s and 20s have actually showed up, he says, a sign the Anonymous influence is a bit more far reaching than originally thought. He also runs the Anonymous-affiliated website www.whyweprotest.net and says that, unlike some of the younger members who, along with their families, have been visited by people claiming to represent Scientology via law firms, he has no plans of backing down. "This isn't going to change a thing," he says. "I have eight hours of flyering scheduled with about another 10 Anons in Boston, and I am going out, putting on my mask, and educating the public."

The Scientology spokesperson who commented earlier to Radar, denying that the Church sent "lawyers" to visit anyone, has not responded to follow-up questions asking whether other legal representatives paid anyone visits or whether the Church agrees with the tactic.

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