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Leah Remini interviews one of the original online troublemakers: Andreas Heldal-Lund

[Andreas and Tory in Toronto, 2015]

For their podcast this week Leah Remini and Mike Rinder talked to one of the original online troublemakers, and a great guy we have had the pleasure of knowing for many years.

Andreas Heldal-Lund was a computer engineer in Stavanger, Norway when, in 1996, he became interested in Scientology’s attempt to crack down on information about itself on the early Internet. And the fact that Andreas was in Norway became a big part of the reason we’re still talking about him today, more than 25 years since he started his website Xenu.net.

Because of Norway’s liberal freedom of information laws, Scientology could not get Xenu.net taken down, despite years of furious attempts to do so. Because of that, the website became the premier location for data about the church online for many years.

We first crossed paths with Andreas thanks to Tory Christman. While we were working as a reporter at New Times Los Angeles in the new century, we heard that a Scientologist (then known as Tory Bezazian) had done something really kind of mindblowing: She had defected, live, from Scientology while participating in an online forum.

We knew that Scientology and the Internet had been a hot story for years, but this seemed like a turning point. We told Tory’s story, and one of the best parts of it was that while she was fighting Scientology’s critics as “Magoo” on Usenet, she considered Andreas Heldal-Lund, operator of the hated Xenu.net, to be the devil. So it stunned her when at one point Andreas reached out to her with useful advice about how she could make her constant online posts less distracting and more readable.

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Tory couldn’t believe it: The devil had reached out to give her a helping hand!

Andreas’s basic decency turned out to be just what enabled Tory to begin seeing what was wrong with Scientology, leading to her spectacular defection. You can still read our 2001 story about this here.

Years later in 2012, after we became editor of the Village Voice, we had another very fun collision with Andreas: He showed up in New York, and we decided to take a stroll in Times Square to look at Scientology’s org there. A body router then asked us both to come inside and watch a film! Wow, your proprietor and Andreas Heldal-Lund, together, walking around in the New York org. It was a blast.

Xenu.net is still going on, but the Internet, especially since the Anonymous explosion in 2008, is a less contentious place and many, many more sources of information about Scientology now exist online, with the church powerless to do anything about it. But we should never forget about the early pioneers who put up with all sorts of legal interference from Scientology’s lawyers as the Internet developed to be Scientology’s Vietnam, just as former spokesman Robert Vaughn Young predicted.

Listen to Andreas and his episode right here!

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

Another dream team!

 

 
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Did you know you can get an email every morning when we post our daily Scientology story? We know some of the folks who come to the Underground Bunker aren’t here to talk about the politics of the day, and that’s why we created a daily politics feature over at our other blog, The Lowdown, and we ask readers to take their political discussions over there. And if you drop us a line at tonyo94 AT gmail, we’ll put you on the list so you get a morning reminder that a new Scientology story has been posted — and only for our Scientology stories.

 
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Source Code

“The technology we have, without any thought at all we can make the sane saner and the insane sane, and the breakthrough which exists here technically is so strong that it actually cuts though the normal protective mechanisms of the mind, wham, wham. And that the use of this material by any but a well organized, well disciplined group would be very fatal, quite lethal. And therefore we’re in the peculiar position now of not being able to export all the technology we have, because the areas into which we would export it, and the orgs into which we export it are insufficiently organized to be able to handle and control it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 18, 1971

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“‘CHILDREN’: By FO No. 301 a Condition of non-existence is assigned to any member of the ships company that obstructs a child from doing his or her work, deprives the child of his possessions or his job. This applies to all cadets and Middies as well.” — The Commodore, January 18, 1971

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“LRH said that the release of OT9 and above required a large group of people through OT8 and many orgs the size of old Saint Hill. If OT9 were first dynamic levels then such would not be necessary. The Church of Scientology and the Sea Org are not real groups as they operate on inverted third dynamics to the detriment of the individual first dynamics. True groups involve the interactions of individuals who are surviving on the first and second dynamic. The authoritarian hierarchical structure of Scientology organizations makes that impossible. We have a long way to go.”

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Past is Prologue

1996: From Biased Journalism, a report on the film plans of actor John Travolta. “Word is that Scientologist superstar John Travolta is pushing Miramar Productions to do Revolt in The Stars, a story directly based on OTIII. Miramar HATES the script. And thinks the movie will DIE on the vine, so to speak. Travolta is pushing Miramar to do the movie as part of his contract renegotiations, so it is difficult for them to say no.”

 
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Random Howdy

“I’ve already exteriorized three times today…without coffee!”

 
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Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for February 8. Trial scheduled for August 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), false imprisonment, aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Next hearing scheduled for January 18.

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Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference January 22 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for February 11.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Next hearing February 15.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments held November 2, awaiting a ruling.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.

 
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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

 
Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Scientology nostalgia: Never-before-seen photos from a 2001 celebrity wankfest
[TWO years ago] Narconon whistleblower Lucas Catton puts out a new memoir about his Scientology nightmare
[THREE years ago] Filmmakers tell us why they decided to help Scientology with its new TV network
[FOUR years ago] A new chapter for one of the best Scientology books of all time? Yes, and we have it!
[FIVE years ago] Leah Remini has changed Scientology forever — which episode was your favorite?
[SIX years ago] Stalked in New Orleans cemetery: Scientology’s secretive defectors getting more open
[SEVEN years ago] VIDEO LEAK: See former Scientology official Marty Rathbun interrogated under oath
[EIGHT years ago] Jon Atack on Scientology’s fundamental feature: the thousand-yard stare
[NINE years ago] Blogging Dianetics, Part 3: The Meaning of Life!
[TEN years ago] Scientology’s Goons: Intimidating a 71-Year-Old Missouri Grandmother

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,549 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,054 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,574 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,594 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,485 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,792 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,660 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,434 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,765 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,238 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,554 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,120 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,039 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,207 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,788 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,049 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,085 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,800 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,325 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 680 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,855 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,406 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,555 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,875 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,730 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,849 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,205 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,508 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,614 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,012 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,888 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,471 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,966 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,220 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,329 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on January 18, 2022 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast

 

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