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Scientology tries to discredit BBC documentary

Auntie vs Xenu

By Christopher Williams, 14 May 2007

The Church of Scientology has launched an online campaign against the BBC, ahead of the broadcast of a Panorama documentary investigating the organisation as a "cult".

Journalist John Sweeney has been targeted with a DVD made by the Church, which has distributed copies to MPs.

Sweeney got a little over-excited, during one encounter with the Church's followers, which was filmed, and posted on YouTube by a Scientologist. You might want to turn your speakers down a touch.

Sweeney has already apologised for the outburst. He told the Observer: "The moment it happened I said sorry. I let the side down and the BBC down and I am ashamed. But I felt I was being brainwashed and if people see the full clip I think they will have more sympathy with me."

The documentary's editor Sandy Smith fired back at Scientology's claims: "Their DVD contains two grossly defamatory claims about us - one, that we staged a demonstration against Scientology and two, that a terrorist death threat was made."

Scientology has a history of using the internet to further its agenda against psychiatry and in favour of believing in aliens. It has waged a long-running battle against anti-scientology site Operation Clambake, and other sites that reveal its top secret Xenu story. There's a history of Scientology's online battles at Wikipedia, or check out our related stories below.

Panorama is on BBC One tonight at 8.30pm. ®

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