Zenon Panoussis

[The latest developments in this case can be found at the bottom of this Web page.]

August 20, 1996: Zenon posts NOTs to alt.religion.scientology

While the affair in the Netherlands was heating up, a new wild card was suddenly added to make things even more confusing. Apparently from out of nowhere, a person in Sweden by the name of Zenon Panoussis (oracle@dodo.pp.se) re-posted the NOTs documents to alt.religion.scientology yet again, on August 20. Not only did he post NOTs to alt.religion.scientology, he also announced his intention to sell copies of the OT levels to anyone who asked for them. In addition to this re-post, Zenon posted his manifesto in which he allegedly stated his intent to violate copyright law in order to serve what he sees as the greater good, by making NOTs available for all to see.

This, of course, prompted an immediate response from Scientology. Zenon's postings were promptly cancelled...but immediately afterwards, Zenon re-posted NOTs again. He also declared that repeated cancellation of his posts would result in NOTs being re-posted ad nausaeum.

Helena Kobrin, Scientology's legal representative in the matter of its alleged "copyrighted trade secrets," sent an email warning to Zenon on August 26, and a second warning on August 31. Here is his reply. Zenon also re-affirmed his intent to email NOTs to anyone who asked him for it.

It looked as though Zenon was doing everything possible to force Scientology to sue him.

September 4: Scientology Raids Zenon

On September 4, representatives of Scientology entered Zenon's apartment and seized his hard drives and disks. A lawsuit was filed against him, claiming about $8,000 (US) in damages. Zenon was not home at the time of the raid. Apparently, Scientology considered this case to be so important that they flew Warren McShane all the way from the United States to be present at this raid. Zenon posted a message to alt.religion.scientology describing what he found.

On the surface, this seems like a a case of genuine enforcement of the copyright laws. Unlike the affair over the OT levels, it seemed at first as if Scientology was genuinely protecting its copyrighted "trade secrets" this time.

However, this case may not be as cut-and-dried as it seems. It appears that Scientology's hasty actions may have resulted in an illegal search and seizure of Zenon's property. Here is Zenon's message explaining the possible illegality of the raid.

September 5: Offentlighetsprincipen: Zenon delivers NOTs to the Parliament Office

To everyone's surprise, it turned out that Zenon is in fact very proficient with the legal system in his country, and as such he may be far more able to defend himself tham any of the other people sued by Scientology so far. His first filing of legal documentation in this case seems to back up his claims. Scientology responded by demanding that the court case be placed under "secrecy" -- effectively sealing the case and thus ensuring that NOTs would not made accessible to the public in the way that the OT levels were entered as part of the Fishman Affidavit. But the secrecy order was initially denied. Zenon posted instructions on how to order copies of legal documents from the court on September 9, including copies of NOTs. The issue of secrecy was evidently vital to Scientology: in this message, Zenon notes that Scientology filed a second request for secrecy, and they appealed their first request. But these motions of secrecy were again dismissed by the Stockholm court of appeals. On Friday the 13th (ironically?), as Zenon writes, "the OTs and NOTs are still public documents and will most probably remain so forever." As the OT court cases demonstrated in America, it is currently legal to order a copy of NOTs from the Stockholm court. (However, the legality of making copyrighted materials available for download on the Internet is questionable.)

Why were Scientology's requests for secrecy repeatedly denied? The reason has to do with a unique policy in Sweden called offentlighetsprincipen. This is a provision of the Swedish constitution that guarantees access to public documents in order to prevent corruption and fraud, and it is considered a basic civil right in Sweden. The policy is explained in more detail in this email from an anonymous Swedish official.

Nevertheless, on September 15, Zenon discovered that access to these public files had been restricted by the court. When he asked for a list of the people who had requested the NOTs and OT documents, the court provided one -- which was interesting in itself, because it showed that requests for documents from the court are not anonymous. According to Zenon, an unknown person, somebody, using that list, sent copies of NOTs to the people that had requested them.

The represenatatives of Scientology requested to search Zenon's disks, but this request was denied. A court-appointed technical expert was hired instead, and he was instructed to only look for occurences of alleged copyright violations -- not for any other key phrases such as "Ward" or "Vorlon." Zenon describes here that the NOTs and OT documents were indeed found on his hard disk. In addition, Scientology has also filed for a penal case as well as a civil one.

On Thursday, September 12, Zenon announced that he had retained a lawyer in his case.

Meanwhile, Zenon's story began to hit the local media. Dagens Nyheter, a major Swedish newspaper, carried an article on the story on September 11. This article is not available online yet. Here is another article in Nettnytt magazine at this link, but it is in Norwegian. Here is a translation in English. According to Zenon, Expressen, the major Swedish tabloid, carried a small but "correct and interesting" article on Tuesday the 10th. More media coverage included an inteview with him on local Stockholm TV on the 10th and an interview on national radio, on the 12th. Links to these media stories can be found here.

By the time September 20 arrived, Zenon suggested that there had already been talk of a settlement in the case, though this may not amount to much.

Scientology also apparently began following their standard procedure of investigating their enemies and digging up past crimes. Zenon reports here that someone claiming to a journalist has been seeking information about him. Meanwhile, on October 10, he demonstrated how his building might be watched by detectives -- he can't prove it yet, but it makes for some amusing entertainment. He revealed more information about this on October 19, after he returned from a vacation in Greece, in this update on more strange phone calls.

October 1: NOTs is stolen from the Swedish Parliament

A bulletin on September 28 stated that Zenon had sent a copy of NOTs to the members of Parliament, with the suggestion that they use their parliamentary immunity in order to republish the material. The Parliament office did make copies of the documents upon request, with the actual copying performed by Parliament -- not by Zenon. Zenon met with the court bailiff on Monday, September 30, and here is the result of that meeting. But something else happened on Tuesday, October 1: Zenon learned that the copy of NOTs given to Parliament had somehow disappeared! He reported to the chief of security for the Parliament house, and was told that this was the first time a theft of this sort had ever occured. But the theft wasn't very effective, because Zenon merely re-filed a new copy of NOTs the next day. The theft brought new media attention to Zenon's case, and it was reported was reported in the Swedish journal Aftonbladet at this link, and in English at this link.

On October 10, Zenon posted more concise instructions on how to order a NOTs pack from the Swedish parliament.

Also on October 10, Scientology's opinion of the NOTs documents and the Swedish parliament was made known. In Volume 2, issue 20 of her periodical e-zine Biased Journalism, Shelly Thomson printed the Declaration of Warren McShane, and Zenon's reply to it.

The existence of the NOTs documents as a part of a public court case meant that it was now possible to legally order a copy of NOTs, and many people did so. Apparently someone believed that the documents would be of use to Grady Ward, so a copy was sent to him. Grady promptly filed the unsolicited copy of NOTs as evidence that the documents are indeed publically available. Jon Noring, an Internet activist and long-time resident of alt.religion.scientology, also announced his intention to order a legal copy of NOTs. He also reminded everyone that Scientology can (and probably will) ask the court for copies of all NOTs requests, and thus the organization can learn the names of everyone who has ordered the material. But the lack of anonymity apparently didn't prevent a large number of people from ordering NOTs. However, Mr. Noring also received advice from various lawyers (but not Scientology's lawyers) on the Net, who pointed out that the legality of receiving a Swedish copy of NOTs is uncertain. Therefore, he suggested that it may be wiser to wait until this case develops further before ordering any copies of NOTs. (Upon the suggestion of a post to alt.religion.scientology, Zenon suggested one method that might make it possible to order a legal copy of NOTs: people in America [or other countries] might be able to request the documents from the Swedish embassy. However, this is also in the legal "grey area," and it is currently undecided if such an act would be a violation of the law.)

On October 24, Zenon posted a message saying that the Parliament staff were very busy answering many requests for copies of the NOTs documents. Scientology was still attempting to prevent anyone else from seeing NOTs -- they even tried the same tactic they had used with the case of the Fishman Affidavit. The organization sent its own people to the Parliament, day in and day out, to "read" the NOTs so that no-one else could access them. This strategy did not work, though; Zenon reported that the copying of NOTs by the Parliament staff continued in spite of this action.

Scientology made another attempt to stop the spread of NOTs on October 24. They filed a motion requesting that all materials infringing their copyrights be "taken into custody" (including the Parliament copies of NOTs), and the names and addresses of all people receiving those materials be revealed. This request was finally answered on November 8, when the request for seizure of the Parliament copies of NOTs was denied.

Meanwhile, Zenon received a burst of new media attention over the weekend of October 27-28, including television coverage of Scientology's attempts to keep anyone else from seeing NOTs. Here is an article from the October 25 edition, front page of Dagens Nyheter, translated into English.

October 31: Is NOTs a forgery?

As mentioned already, Grady Ward filed a copy of NOTs from Sweden to prove that the documents are publicly available. Scientology gave an unexpected reply to this action: the lawyers representating the organization in Grady's case suddenly claimed that the NOTs documents from Sweden are a forgery and not authentic. But if this is so, then why is Zenon being sued? He asks that question in this message.

From the point of view of the participants of alt.religion.scientology, Zenon seemed to be enjoying himself. He was in a good mood, which is why his message of November 5 seemed to be something of a joke: he had formed his own church. But underneath the humor there was apparently a serious motive: by taking the court case into the area of "freedom of religion," Zenon could challenge Scientology on its own ground and confront the paradox that Scientology uses to exist: Is it a religion or is it a business?

Zenon's message of November 8 mentioned that Scientology had requested additional search and seizure actions on his home. He also mentioned that his hearing had been set for December 9, 1996.

November 11 (part 1): NOTs is stolen again!

Zenon posted a long bulletin to alt.religion.scientology on November 11 containing some startling news: the Parliament copies of NOTs had been stolen yet again! Instead of merely disappearing, the documents had been removed and replaced with other materials. But once again the theft proved ineffectual: backup copies were produced by the Parliament office (they had been prepared for the possibility this time), and NOTs was restored to its place in the case file once again. This resulted in still more media coverage for Zenon. Here is the translation of an front-page article in Dagens Nyheter, published on November 13.

This second theft of the NOTs materials and replacement with "forgeries" cast a peculiar light on the case of Grady Ward. Grady asked how the lawyers for Scientology had apparently known enough to claim that the sealed copy of NOTs filed in his case was a "forgery" -- but they had know this before the theft in Sweden had been discovered. He states his opinion in this letter to the United States District Court, posted to alt.religion.scientology on November 12. And on November 13, Grady sent a asking him to remove himself from Grady's case.

Meanwhile, on November 13, Zenon learned that some individuals had apparently been bothering people at the Parliament offices for weeks.

On Saturday, November 16, Zenon posted a message to alt.religion.scientology announcing that he suspected he knew the identity of the person who had stolen the NOTs documents.

November 11 (part 2): A letter from the United States Congress?

The case of Zenon and the NOTs documents seemed as if it was becoming more and more bizarre every day. Yet another twist was added to the plot on November 11, when Zenon learned of a strange request that had been sent to the speaker of the Swedish parliament on October 28. This request was allegedly written on the letterhead of the Congress of the United States. It was a request that the NOTs documents be returned to Scientology. This request apparently flew in the face of the Swedish legal system, as explained in this message to Jon Noring. The Speaker of Parliament replied to the request on October 31, and essentially stated that the documents would not be removed from the Parliament office.

Scientology finally issued a public statement the following week. On November 20, a gentleman in Sweden posted a message to alt.religion.scientology stating that a special issue of Freedom, the magazine published by Scientology to present its point of view, was being distributed on the streets of Stockholm. Here is a translation of a portion of the article concerning Zenon Panoussis and the Swedish Parliament. (The remainder of the article should be translated soon, hopefully.) Also on November 20, Warren McShane held a press conference at which it was proposed that the Swedish Constitution should be changed.

The Swedish media were blasting this story across the front page by this time. Zenon posted a message on November 22 announcing that a Swedish TV news show was broadcasting a report on Scientology. Here is a transcript of the SVT teletext news report of the first news broadcast. A followup report on Scientology was broadcast the next day; here again is an transcript of part of that broadcast.

And still the attempts to stop the spread of NOTs continued. Zenon announced on November 24 stating that people who ordered copies of NOTs from the Parliament office were receiving legal notices demanding the "return" of the documents. (This was inevitable, because it was noted earlier that requests for NOTs from the Parliament offices are not anonymous.)

Apparently, the members of Parliament were subjected to a considerable amount of harassment and annoyance. Zenon's message of November 30 noted how the Swedish goverment had resisted the efforts to pressure them into giving up NOTs, and he asked people to show their support of the government's actions. He asked people to send flowers to the members of Parliament.

Also on December 1, it was reported that there had been a theft of documents from a Parliament office earlier in the year, in May of 1996.

An unusual piece of news was posted to alt.religion.scientology on December 2: apparently, the news had reported bullets allegedly fired at Scientology's headquarters in Stochholm. But this "shooting" may not have been what it seemed to be at first. Zenon went to the scene of the incident, and according to his newsgroup posting the situation seemed unusual. A couple of days later, the police said the case was closed.

Zenon's posting of December 5 noted that NOTs had spread to Fidonet.

December 9: Preliminary Hearing

On December 9, the initial hearing in Zenon's case was held; according to the Swedish legal system, the first hearing is meant to prepare for the actual court case. Zenon reported that the legal proceedings were mostly satisfactory, though a curious affair involving the person who allegedly stole the NOTs documents also took place.

December 17: The Second Raid

Zenon also learned that the court bailiff would be visiting his apartment to complete the seizure of the documents outlined in the original court order obtained by Scientology. In response, Zenon decided that he would invite people to his home to witness the seizure of materials. Zenon also posted a request for help from the users of the Internet: he asked people to send him copies of Scientology documents other than the OTs and NOTs.

Zenon arranged for TV coverage of this second raid on his home, and a live connection to the Net broadcasted events as they occured. The affair is summarized here, in Volume 2, Issue 23 of Biased Journalism, the e-magazine by Shelly Thomson. According to her report, the bailiff did indeed visit Zenon's apartment...but after reading a new legal filing by Zenon, she left without taking anything! (Pictures were taken during the visit, and they are currently available on this Web site in Sweden. Here is a description of the pictures.) The next issue of Biased Journalism, Volume 2, Issue 24, contained additional first-person reports of the raid, including one from Zenon.

The period from Christmas to News Years day of 1997 was surprisingly quiet. Zenon took a break from his Net activities, and nothing of major importance was revealed about his case during that time...but the New Year was off to an interesting start, when on January 3 Grady Ward informed the members of alt.religion.scientology of the latest action in court. Apparently, the lawyers for Scientology had filed a statement in his case in which they allegedly claimed that Grady and Zenon had conspired to destroy Scientology's trade secrets. Grady posted a scan of the 15-page document to the Net, but his scanning was rather rough and the document may be difficult to read. Grady then made his opposition to Scientology's claim of conspiracy on January 7.

This legal action brought Zenon back into the fray, as he posted an announcement of his upcoming plans for the year. Zenon made an announcement that he would soon be accepting donations for a legal fund which he planned to use to further his case. (He did not ask for donations right away, however.)

At this point, things seemed to settle down into a period of waiting. Zenon still appeared on alt.religion.scientology, but he didn't have much to report as the situation had become rather quiet.

One other bulletin was announced in the case of Grady Ward: On January 24, Grady posted a message stating that Per Magnusson had been accused of lying in a sworn affidavit, in his testimony that allegedly claimed a conspiracy between Grady and Zenon. (Per Magnusson is the legal representative of Scientology in its legal action against Zenon.)

Zenon followed up Grady's announcement with his return to alt.religion.scientology over the Valentine's Day weekend. He reported that he had reported Per Magnusson to the court prosecutor, claiming that he had lied in a sworn affidavit. On Sunday, February 16, Zenon then explained the legal parrying and ripostes that had taken place between him and Scientology in this example of the difference between the sealed copy of NOTs and the publicly available copy of NOTs that can still be obtained from the parliament office.

Zenon's case proceeded apace, and he gathered as much evidence as he could for it. On February 25, he posted a request to alt.religion.scientology for people to send him published Scientology brochures, documents, and names of people. He did not ask for any material that would be a violation of alleged "trade secrets."

On Monday, March 3, Zenon announced that the penalty hearing for his case would take place on March 5, 1997. This would be the actual trial, and Zenon was optimistic that his case would be settled on that very day.

March 5, 1997: Civil Hearing

On March 5, Zenon appeared in court before Judge Rolf Nöteberg. From his point of view, the hearing went well, although a further hearing was scheduled for April 24. Zenon appeared to have formed the opinion that Scientology had changed its tactics -- now, they may have been deliberately attempting to drop out of the case and let it be resolved. In this message, Zenon explains his reasons for this new opinion.

The hearing itself was a cut-and-dried affair: according to Zenon, Scientology's presentation was pitiful and ineffectual, which only reinforced his opinion that they may have been willing to end the case. Zenon also offered to make RealAudio sound files of the hearing available, so as to show that the judge was fair and impartial.

A couple of days after this, however, the tone on alt.religion.scientology became more somber when Grady Ward announced that the Swedish copy of NOTs filed in court had been removed from the case, and that they would not be used as evidence. Furthermore, according to Grady, they would not be returned to him.

It may be that Scientology had learned its lesson, because the NOTs documents had not "disappeared" from the Parliament offices again at this time. On March 12, Zenon posted a message describing an incident involving a person who wanted to look at NOTs -- but the person in question was not Zenon.

But in spite of the frantic activity surrounding the NOTs material, Zenon felt that the case needed a bit more excitement. On Friday, March 7, he posted the text of The Scandal of Scientology to alt.religion.scientology...but as far as is known, Scientology did not take the bait this time. No reports of a Scientology response to this action appeared on the newsgroup.

Little news came from Sweden during the remainder of March, as most of the attention on alt.religion.scientology was focused on other major events (including a front-page article in the New York Times). Then April arrived, and along with it came a number of startling events concerning the legal status of the NOTs documents. These events are summarized on my History of NOTs Web page.

Another event took place in Sweden: on Thursday, April 10, Zenon announced that a second issue of Freedom magazine had been published, in which wild and furious accusations were hurled left and right at Zenon and the Swedish Parliament.

April 28: Zenon Declares War

Zenon's next hearing took place on Monday, April 28. Zenon stated that the hearing went well, and a final ruling would be given on May 7. He was confident that he would win this ruling...but his message also suggested that he was becoming frustrated by Scientology's legal tactics. The organization has an infamous reputation for using the legal system to literally bury their opponents under paperwork, and he was taking the full brunt of their attack. Therefore, Zenon decided that it was time to issue a final ultimatum to Scientology, stating the terms in which he would withdraw from the NOTs battle. But even so, he didn't think there was much of a chance of Scientology accepting his terms...

...and he was right. Two days later, on April 30, Zenon stated that his proposal had not been accepted. Therefore, he announced, he would prepare to escalate the war to the next level, and the gloves would finally come off.

The first moves in this new effort were seen on alt.religion.scientology on Friday, May 2. Once again, Zenon posted the text of the NOTs and the OT levels to alt.religion.scientology, sparking a brand new confrontation.

And on May 3, Scientology made another attempt to link Zenon with Grady Ward, in their ongoing efforts to prove a "conspiracy" by the members of alt.religion.scientology. They filed a list of names and phone numbers they believed had "conspired" with Grady Ward. However, Zenon was completely unimpressed with this maneuver.

May 7: Victory in Court!

The ruling on Zenon's case was finally announced on May 7: Not only was Zenon's case upheld, but Scientology was ordered to pay Zenon's legal costs. Of course the ruling was immediately appealed, but this was hailed on alt.religion.scientology as a true victory for Zenon.

Zenon Panoussis' defiance of Scientology is also being covered at Scientologikyrkan stämmer svensk, a Web page in Sweden managed by Daniel Deimert (d1dd@dtek.chalmers.se). This page is in Swedish, but most of the links lead to pages written in English.

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