Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Bryan Seymour challenges Scientology’s ‘Freedom’ magazine to show itself


Australian television journalist Bryan Seymour posted something interesting to his Facebook page yesterday, so we asked him for the back story.

Here’s what he sent us.

Every few months a letter or email arrives at the Seven Newsroom, accompanying a glossy publication with the title Freedom.

Some of the letters have been addressed to the chief of staff, the news director, and on this occasion, to the network’s foreign editor, Ric Carter.


In the attached letter from Freedom magazine Australia Editor Sei Kato, you can read how the publication “calls for increased awareness of the increasing control of human rights and liberty in the name of security.”

The irony of that statement is astonishing. Firstly because the author truly believes it. Secondly because Scientology itself has violated the human rights and denied liberty to scores of people, as revealed by the work of Tony Ortega, Alex Gibney, myself and other journalists.

In drawing this most recent approach to my attention, Ric Carter said he initially didn’t realize that Freedom was the propaganda arm of Scientology.

Scientology relies on “slipping through” the awareness of busy reporters and editors in the hope they will win some attention and improve their “stats”… a bit like Nigerian scammers sending out endless emails knowing that eventually they’ll hook some poor, unsuspecting victim.

Not this time, Sei.

In my response I have included a request for an interview on-camera. I hold little hope it will be accepted.

Over the course of nine years and more than 85 stories on Scientology, I’ve been granted an interview only once – with Tommy Davis and four celebrities (Anne Archer, Nancy Cartwright, Erika Christensen and Marisol Nichols) – you can see these here.

For the Australian Editor of Freedom magazine, which declares itself a beacon of investigative journalism and the “voice for humanity,” the response to my request for an interview will be conclusive…and confirm once and for all the truth…

Freedom is a propaganda tool driven by hate and filled with lies, misinformation and ignorance.

I’ll expect another letter soon.

That Bryan Seymour, he pulls no punches.

So here’s the letter that was sent by Sei Kato to the Seven Network’s Ric Carter…

Letter from Freedom editor to Ch 7 news

And here’s the email message that Seymour sent in reply…

From: Seymour, Bryan
Sent: Tuesday, 26 January 2016 9:49 AM
To: ‘’
Subject: Seven News

Hi Sei,

Our foreign editor Ric Carter passed on your letter and copy of Freedom Mag as soon as he received it.

I’ve alerted all our newsrooms to do the same.

The reason is simple.

Freedom Magazine is a disgraceful publication that serves only to vilify those who expose the truth about Scientology.

Your attack pieces on people including Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright, Mike Rinder, Paul Haggis, Marc Headley, Jason Beghe and many others are appalling and represent an abuse of freedom of speech.

Hate, viciousness, and ignorance – these are the qualities that define Freedom Magazine.

If you would like to discuss this further, I invite you to sit down with me and do an interview on camera. I invite you to also film the interview with your own crew so that you can be assured nothing will be taken out of context.

Please let me know when will suit.



Bryan Seymour
Senior Journalist | Seven News

We sent our own email to Kato, asking her if she could tell us why Freedom stopped putting out issues after its September edition. (Along with her letter to Ric Carter, Kato had sent a stale copy of Freedom‘s May 2015 issue — did she really think the Seven Network would be interested in the articles from an 8-month-old magazine?)

Naturally, we keep an eye on Freedom and what it’s up to. For a few years, the magazine dropped all pretense of seriousness and became an attack dog for Scientology leader David Miscavige. Putting out issues only about once a year, it went after Lawrence Wright and the New Yorker in one memorable issue from 2011, and then, about a year later, it put out an over-the-top screed against former church official Mark “Marty” Rathbun, calling him “Kingpin Rathbone” and the leader of the “Posse of Lunatics.”


Then, in 2013, we were intrigued to find out that Miscavige had hired a legitimate local journalist of some renown in the Tampa area, John Sugg, to oversee a relaunch of the magazine. It turned out that Sugg was made editor of the “Florida edition” of Freedom, which has only put out three issues since then. But Sugg has also contributed to the relaunched “international” edition of Freedom, which started putting out monthly issues in July 2014.

Miscavige hired one of Sugg’s former Tampa Weekly Planet writers, Jennifer Lankheim, to edit the suddenly very earnest new incarnation of the magazine from offices in Los Angeles. Except for a few lazy stabs at the media in columns by Denver-based reporter Dan Luzadder, Freedom ignored Scientology’s critics and took on one sober issue after another, from America’s crumbling infrastructure to the state of the country’s schools.

While the print magazine pretended it was doing useful journalism, the Freedom website was a hilarious mess. On one half of the page, it presents its august print publication, but on the other half, it features its web-only screeds against Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright, and their documentary, Going Clear. Here’s a screenshot:


[On the left, sober journalism, on the right, unhinged screeds against Gibney]

Follow the link to Gibney, and you get a full page of smears about the people in the film, all looking terrible with the worst photos Freedom could find. Freedom also took to Twitter to find readers for its potshots at Going Clear, and in one memorable salvo posted what looked like a photo of Sara Goldberg with a target on her face. We emailed Lankheim, asking her for some clarification on that, but she never got back to us.


Miscavige just can’t help himself, even if, for more than a year, he managed to keep this kind of thing out of his print magazine. But then, as we said, it all went dead last fall. No more new magazine issues, and no more new videos against Gibney. What gives?

We hope Ms. Kato might enlighten us on that, but we are not really too hopeful about getting a response.

CODA: As an additional note to this story, we will loft one possible theory for what the Freedom crew is up to during this hiatus. One of our readers is a young man who so recently left Scientology, he was still sending emails complaining about us just months ago. In October, he sent an email to Freedom, asking “Do you guys have rebuttal videos coming soon or plan to in the future, on Chris Shelton?, Tony Ortega? Leah Remini?”

On November 26, he got this reply from the address: “You will find them at, and the others you mentioned will be on there soon. Best, Roberta”

So we have that to look forward to.

Actually, an issue dedicated to slamming Remini’s Troublemaker sounds quite plausible. Is that what’s coming, Jennifer and John?


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Scientology donor Jim Mathers wows them at the Tolyatti, Russia mission. He’s a superstar with the kids!


Youth for Human Rights hands out propaganda in Los Angeles. (Thanks, Legoland.)


In Panama, L. Ronald is considered “muy guapo.”



3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 26, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email