The documents seized from the Church of Scientology by the FBI last week, include dossiers on the personal lives of judges handling Scientology lawsuits, files on "bugging devices" and a "locksmith course," and employee directories and organizational charts of several federal agencies, according to court records.
Federal prosecutors want to show these documents to a federal grand jury here, which has begun to hear evidence that Scientologists allegedly infiltrated the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service and stole some of the agencies' files on the religious sect. Five Church of Scientology officials were briefly brought before the grand jury under subpoena yesterday and are scheduled to return later.
At the same time, however, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] for the Scientologists went to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] try to prohibit the government [WORD ILLEGIBLE] showing the grand jury or [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the many cartons of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] by teams of FBI [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Scientology offices [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Angeles Friday. A federal judge will hear arguments in the case today.
In addition, the Scientologists released at a press conference here yesterday documents the church obtained from the government through Freedom of Information Act suits that showed federal agents had infiltrated the church years ago. The Scientologists claimed the FBI may have used "agents provocateurs and other illegal tactics in order to fabricate a massive campaign" against the church, culminating in Friday's raid.
Spokesmen for the Scientologists said they could not discuss specifics about the documents seized by the FBI, but they added that there were innocent explanations for the sinister-sounding files and folders. "If I could talk about them, I could probably explain them," said church spokesman Hugh Wilhere. He explained that the church's lawyers had told him not to comment on the legal aspects of the case.
The FBI raided the Scientology offices Friday, largely on the basis of a detailed debriefing of a former Scientology official who said he had participated in the sect's alleged plot to infiltrate the federal government.
The search in Los Angeles involved more than 100 FBI agents - "the most FBI agents I've seen in one place since the movie "The FBI story's according to one church spokesman - and produced a haul so large that the agents carted off the documents in a truck.
In Washington, about 20 agents allegedly seized "three or four box-loads" of material from the Scientology offices at 2125 S St. N.W.
Scientologists in both places said the agents used unwarranted force to break into offices and filing cabinets. They said they would have willingly made the desired material available to the agents.
Wearing rubber gloves so that their fingerprints would not be on the materials, the FBI agents brought their own stenographers and typewriters to itemize the material they took from the sect's administrative offices.
The fruits of the Washington search alone took 31 legal size pages to itemize, according to court records here. The itemization begins with a "folder marked U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Agents' directory," and continues through internal Scientologist memos concerning matters as diverse as public press releases to data marked "very covert, cannot be used." Included are "data estimates" on judges who are handling the Scientologists' lawsuits, and "compliance reports" concerning the same judges.
Many of the materials refer to a Scientologist program known in the church hierarchy as "Snow White." According to an affidavit signed by a Scientology official yesterday. "Snow White" is merely the code name for the church's Freedom of Information Act suits against the government.
The actual documents to which the FBI agents referred in their itemization have not yet been made public. It was to stop the government from making them public that Scientology lawyers went into court late yesterday.
The lawyers claim that serious questions about the legality of Friday's raids should prohibit the government from even reviewing the material any further at this time. Instead, the court should impound the materials until the legality of the search is determined, the Scientology lawyers argued said.
Their legal motion is unusual because attorneys would have a chance at any subsequent trial to try to have evidence suppressed if the search was determined to be illegal.
However, the church's lawyers said that there is already such strong evidence that the search was unconstitutional that the material should not even be used in the government's investigation of the Scientologists. They said the warrant was too broad, the materials seized were religious and legal documents and that government used the search solely to gather information about pending Scientologist lawsuits.
The search "constituted a roving invasion of the church's privacy and a lawless taking of its property," the Scientologists' lawyers said in a motion filed before U.S. District Chief Judge William B. Bryant. Last Friday, Bryant rejected a plea by the Scientologists that the search be halted while it was still in progress.
At a press conference yesterday, Scientologist spokesmen continued to maintain that the church was a victim of government harassment.
"We feel the government took action as a reciprocal measure" in response to the numerous Freedom of Information Act suits the church has filed in attempts to obtain files the government has kept on the organization, said one church spokesman.
The federal government has monitored the group's activities for years, largely because of its concern about the group's tax-exempt status as a religion.
The Scientologists released documents yesterday that also show that the Food and Drug Administration infiltrated the organization in 1959 to obtain information on the group, and that a Treasury Department agent made false allegations about the group in government files that have now been destroyed.
At their press conference, the Scientologists also accused the federal agents of staging Friday's raids for maximum exposure in the press. Attorneys for the church asked in their court action that FBI agents and prosecutors working on the case be gagged from speaking to the press about it.
The search warrant Friday listed 162 items that the federal government said had been stolen from government files by Scientologists at the direction of church officials.
One of the files allegedly recovered was a document entitled. "The Correct Use of Codes." That document, according to the Scientologists, refers only to "codes" that the church used in an attempt to hamper the federal government from reading any of the Scientologists' mail it might intercept.