FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Germany's Church of Scientology branch launched a legal effort to declare surveillance by security agencies unconstitutional.
Scientology filed suits with state courts in Berlin and Cologne against Germany's federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, asking that continued monitoring of Scientologists be outlawed.
Since 1997, 15 of Germany's 16 states have monitored Scientologists on suspicion of being a cult with purely economic interests that endangers democracy by trying to infiltrate governments and companies.
The Scientologists, with 6,000 German members, insist they are a religious organization and surveillance is based on no facts and abuses Scientologists' rights to freedom of religion.''
Last week's U.S. State Department human rights report for 2002 criticized Germany for continuing to monitor Scientology despite security officials' acknowledgment there is no evidence of illegal activity.
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