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David Lucifer
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Keith Henson in custody
« on: 2007-02-03 13:18:13 »
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On 26 Apr 2001, long time CoV associate Keith Henson was convicted of "interfering with a religion", a misdemeanor under California law, for picketing outside Scientology's heavily-armed, razor-wire enclosed base outside Hemet, CA. Fearing death threats he fled the US to Canada but was unable to acquire official refugee status has been on the run ever since. In the #virus IRC channel he mentioned a couple times that his current location was the  Mortmain Mountains. I just got news this morning that he has been taken into custody. A blog has been set up as clearing house for information pertaining to his arrest.
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Ophis
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Re:Keith Henson in custody
« Reply #1 on: 2007-02-03 15:54:36 »
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I forwarded the blog's URL to the An-Cap Transhumanist mailing list.  Arel posted to the list this morning about HK's arrest.

Unfortunately, things are not looking very good.  As one list member mentioned this morning, standing up to the Scientologists is a brave thing to do, but by fleeing to Canada (albeit with good reasons), Keith now has the State as an new enemy.  There is now a harsher battle ahead...
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David Lucifer
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Re:Keith Henson in custody
« Reply #2 on: 2007-02-03 19:42:44 »
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Cool, which an-cap list is that?

I agree the prognosis isn't good but here's how we can help:

Digg the story
Link to or repost the press release to other forums
Contribute to the legal defence fund

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Re:Keith Henson in custody
« Reply #3 on: 2007-02-04 03:58:30 »
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An excellent mailing list ran by Perry Metzger.  Not too much traffic but very intelligent people.
http://lists.crackmuppet.org/listinfo.cgi/act-crackmuppet.org

I'm going to create a digg account for this one.
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David Lucifer
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Re:Keith Henson in custody
« Reply #4 on: 2007-02-04 22:19:48 »
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source: 10 Zen Monkeys

“Scientology Fugitive” Arrested
By RU Sirius

On Friday, Arizona police arrested a 64-year-old man — a fugitive since 2001 in a bizarre war that mixes free speech, copyright law, and the Church of Scientology.

Keith Henson’s journey began seven years ago while innocuously watching another critic mock the group on an internet newsgroup. In a gonzo discussion about procuring a “Tom Cruise missile,” they’d joked about working with “Secret Agent 99, wearing a stunning black leather biker outfit.” Other posters joined in the internet discussion, asking whether Tom Cruise missiles are affected by wind.”No way,” Keith joked. “Modern weapons are accurate to a matter of a few tens of yards.”

The police were informed of his “threatening” posts, and Henson was arrested.

The police tipsters were the Scientologists themselves, who had already been the targets of an annoying picketing campaign by Henson over the death of a woman near their complex. Besides Henson’s inability to acquire long-range missiles, his wife notes bitterly that it would be impossible for any church members in the complex to feel threatened by the internet posts, since they aren’t even allowed to access the internet. Scientology officials have also claimed Henson followed their employees home — though Henson counters that “the same people who claimed to have been ‘terrorized’ by the picketers offered to take them to lunch on June 25, 2000, evidently to distract them from the death scene being cleaned up.”

Though Henson was found innocent of long-range missile terrorism, for his activities he was convicted of interfering with a church — a California hate crime for which he received a six-month misdemeanor prison sentence. But Henson said he feared his life would be in danger from Scientologists if he were imprisoned - and he fled to Canada in 2001.

He was already bankrupt from an earlier ruling that he’d infringed on Scientology copyrights. But Henson continued picketing Scientologists in Toronto, and they apparently retaliated by informing Canadian police of his presence. (Henson believes the Scientologists told police he was a terrorist and bomb maker.) L.A. Weekly reported two unmarked vans pulled up and “a handful of emergency-services task-force officers — Canada’s version of a police SWAT team — spilled out, wearing body armor and carrying submachine guns.” Describing the event, the EFF reported Henson was “arrested in a shopping mall parking lot, by a heavily armed paramilitary unit.”

EFF Executive Director Shari Steele argued that Free speech was at stake in his case: “This trial seems intended to punish Mr. Henson for his opposition to a powerful organization using the barest thread of legal justification to do so.”

His wife added in an interview with a Canadian newsweekly that “It’s horrifying to me and to his friends how they’ve managed to twist his words.”

Henson was ultimately released from a Canadian jail after filing an application for political asylum — reportedly the first ever accepted for review by the Canadian government, and for the next three years he lived as an expatriate in Canada, awaiting their decision.

When asked to describe life in Canada, he replied “colder.” As the years rolled by, Henson explained his picketing strategy evolved out of a desire to have a real impact. In a 2005 interview he argued that heavy-handed legal tactics intimidated police from acting against the organization, and “Starving Scientology of new members is perhaps the best we can do.”

But when Canadian officials reached a decision in 2005, Henson was suddenly filled with concern. The hearing could result in his deportation back to the prison where he feared for his life. He reportedly said, “I’m not going to be shoved across the border into the hands of Scientologists,” Henson slipped out of Canada, returning to fugitive status, and joked that he was hiding in the Mortmain Mountains — the treachorous range in Lemony Snicket books.

For 17 months he lived on the lam. Yesterday, in the small town of Prescott, Arizona — the law finally caught up with him. Henson had been driving his wife’s car, and when stopped by police, was soon informed of the outstanding warrant for his arrest. He was taken into custody, and faces extradition back to the California prison he’s feared for the last six years. Saturday morning Henson’s wife, identifying herself as a “soon to be widow,” issued a plea asking the public for legal help, publicity — “anything but the usual Scientology private eyes who have harassed her for years.”

Henson has a long history of activity within tech culture. He was one of the founders and leaders of the L5 Space Colony movement in the 1970s. (California’s new Attorney General, Jerry Brown, was also in the L5 orbit when he was Governor of that state.) He was a close associate of K. Eric Drexler while Drexler was conceiving nanotechnology. He has also been active in the digital encryption movement, and has been associated with the Transhumanist movement — particularly Extropy Institute.

Former Extropy Institute members and other well wishers have already created a legal defense fund. There is also now a “Free Keith Henson” blog where people can keep track of new developments. Henson has many friends and late Friday night one supporter even called the jail, according to a
Usenet post, and spoke to a prison staffer.

“I asked if he’d tell Keith that Tory sent her love. And I asked him to please watch after Keith.”
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David Lucifer
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Re:Keith Henson in custody
« Reply #5 on: 2007-02-06 00:12:12 »
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Tom Cruise' missile jokester arrested

By Declan McCullagh

source: new.com

Story last modified Mon Feb 05 20:33:10 PST 2007


A Silicon Valley figure who fled the country after being convicted in part because of a Usenet joke about Tom Cruise and Scientology has been arrested in Arizona.

Keith Henson, an engineer, writer and futurist, was arrested Friday in Prescott, Ariz., where he has living for the past few years and now faces extradition to California. Henson originally fled to Canada after the 2001 conviction.

The misdemeanor conviction in California stems from a post that Henson made in the alt.religion.scientology Usenet newsgroup that joked about aiming a nuclear "Tom Cruise" missile at Scientologists, and Henson's picketing of the group's Golden Era Productions in Riverside, Calif.

Michael Kielsky, Henson's defense attorney, said Monday that his client will likely be released on Monday evening and is required to appear in court for a March 5 hearing.

Kielsky said that Henson was mistreated by police and jailers--including being told during the arrest that he had no right to an attorney and being held in solitary confinement in a poorly-heated cell without adequate bedding. "My best information is that it's very political," he said. "They gave him an extra blanket but then an hour later they took it away--(this is) a 66-year-old man with a heart problem."

A message left with Sheila Polk, the Yavapai County Attorney, was not returned on Monday.

A brief flap ensued over the amount of Henson's bond delayed the process. A judge initially set the amount at $7,500, but then increased it to $500,000 at the request of prosecutors, according to the Yavapai County Detention Center. After a telephone conference with the judge and attorneys on Monday afternoon, the bond was lowered to $5,000.

Henson's frequent encounters with Scientology, coupled with his lengthy resume of programming, electrical engineering, and futurist accomplishments, have made him something of a legal cause celebre in technology circles.

Supporters have created a "Free Keith Henson" blog, posted a note from his wife, Arel Lucas, and are asking for donations to a legal defense fund. The fund was set up by members of the Extropy Institute, a nonprofit group that has been a gathering point for futurists and technologists since 1991.

Convicted of making threat to interfere with religion
Henson was convicted in 2001 under a California law (Sec. 422.6) that criminalizes any threat to interfere with someone else's "free exercise" of religion. One Usenet post that was introduced at his trial included jokes about sending a "Tom Cruise" missile against a Scientology compound (the actor is a prominent Scientologist.). Picketing Scientology buildings and other "odd behavior" were also part of the charges, Deputy District Attorney Robert Schwarz said at the time.

Jeanne Roy, a deputy district attorney in Riverside County, Calif., said that the next step for her office is to see whether Henson shows up for his March 5 court date. If he does not, an Arizona warrant would be issued for his arrest. If he does, Roy said, another court date would be set to deal with extradition through a process known as a governor's warrant.

"That won't happen by March 5," Roy said. "It's usually a 30- to 90-day process, depending on the state, for that paperwork." If extradited to California, she said, Henson faces a year in jail or six months in jail and 3 years of probation.

When asked whether it's common for California to try to extradite someone on a misdemeanor conviction, Roy said: "It's not common, but it's not unusual either. We do it in some cases."

Henson's family is concerned about what might happen to him in jail. "The Scientologists have made death threats to my father," his daughter Amber Henson said in an e-mail message to CNET News.com. "My mom and I are going to do everything possible to make sure that they are not able to silently do away with him." (The Church of Scientology could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.)


Before his misdemeanor conviction, Henson had become embroiled in a civil lawsuit that Scientology filed against him.

It arose out of supposedly secret scriptures written by L. Ron Hubbard, the late science fiction author and founder of Scientology, which describe a galactic overlord named Xenu who is allegedly the source of all human evil. Since the early 1990s, Scientology has made a concerted effort to remove those documents from the Internet--including suing Henson--but they finally found a permanent legal home in the Netherlands.

Scientology's tactics, which critics say include cult-like retention practices and intimidation, have drawn fire in the past. A Time magazine cover story, for instance, concluded that "Scientology poses as a religion but really is a ruthless global scam." Xenu and Cruise were also satirized in a November 2005 episode of South Park.

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