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State Department to criticized German for opposition to Scientology

January 27, 1997 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department in its annual worldwide survey of human rights violations, will criticize Germany for its restrictions on the Church of Scientology, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The newspaper said that the report, due out Wednesday, will chastise Germany for an administration official characterized as ``a campaign of harassment and intimidation″ against the controversial church.

The United States has expressed concern about Germany’s policies toward the church and its members, but also has been told by the German government through diplomatic channels not to interfere.

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Emotions have been raised over the issue because the Scientologists have likened Germany’s treatment of the church to the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews. The German government has said it is trying to rein in what it considers a subversive cult organization .

The church, founded in the 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard, claims 8 million members worldwide including about 30,000 members in Germany. It has fought for years to be accepted as a church. It has had legal status as a church in the United States since 1993.