Two organizations engaged in smuggling Bibles into communist countries have filed lawsuits against one another here on charges involving leaders of the agencies.
A $1.5 million suit has been filed against Jesus to the Communist World and against the Rev. Michael Wurmbrand by the Rev. L. Joe Bass, founder and president of Underground Evangelism, and Stefan Bankov, a staff member.
The suit charges Wurmbrand with having "maliciously engaged in the long, extended and persistent practice of publishing defamatory falsehoods" against Bass and Underground Evangelism.
In turn, Wurmbrand and his organization filed a $4 million suit against Bass and his agency, charging that materials prepared by Underground Evangelism in connection with its suit are defamatory to Wurmbrand and his group.
Underground Evangelism is the older of the two groups. Wurmbrand originally was connected with the first group, but left after a dispute in 1967 to help found Jesus to the Communist World.
Filka Bankov, daughter of Underground Evangelism staff member Stefan Bankov, was arrested in July 1976, in Los Angeles and charged with demanding $100,000 from Underground Evangelism and Bass and his wife in extortion letters.
Miss Bankov was indicted by a grand jury on the extortion charge, but all criminal complaints against her were dismissed in June, 1977.
However, in September, 1976, while Wurmbrand met with Hans Steuckelberger, an Underground Evangelism staff member in Frankfort on the subject of Miss Bankov's whereabouts, he allegedly made statements that apparently led to the first suit.
The Underground Evangelism suit charges that Wurmbrand had written letters defaming Stefan Bankov and the Basses.
Both parties to the lawsuits have indicated they would prefer an out-of-court settlement, but Underground Evangelism has demanded that any settlement include a cocument saying that Wurmbrand admits having made false statements.
Wurmbrand has said that to do so "would be a cover-up of a cover-up unsettlement include a document saying [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]