Woman Alleges False Imprisonment on Scientology Cruise Ship "Freewinds"

Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard - Freewinds Cruise ShipThe Australian Broadcasting Network just published a weird and disturbing report that the Scientology organization held a young woman against her will on its cruise ship, the Freewinds, which the Scientologists home port in Curaçao. 

The report involves Valeska Paris who was born into a Scientology family.  Her father, once a millionaire, alleged that the organization fleeced him and he became impoverished.  After he committed suicide, her mother denounced Scientology on national television.  Scientology "church" leaders then instructed Ms. Paris to have no further contact with her family and placed her on the organization's cruise ship where she has been held for twelve years.

As a child, Ms. Paris had enlisted into Scientology's "Sea Organization" which required her to agree to a "one billion year contract" of service. 

It seems that the Scientology cult uses the cruise ship to teach "specialized services . . . in advanced spiritual concepts" based on lectures that its leader L. Ron Hubbard gave in the 1960s.  Hubbard thought that the path to higher spirituality could be found in settings like cruise ships sailing to tranquil locations.  Hubbard was often photographed wearing a captain's hat.

The "Church of Scientology International" calls Ms. Paris a "liar" and an "apostate."  It refers to Ms. Paris' claims as "wholly irresponsible, ludicrous, sad, spurious, dishonest, ridiculous, unreliable,  uncorroborated, and totally false."  You can read the over-the-top Scientology denials here.   

The Scientology statement says that the Freewinds cruise ship is a "wonderful place."

The last time the Freewinds was in the news was in 2008 when asbestos was located on the ship and the cruise ship was declared a health hazard.  It was dubbed the Death Ship

The Freewinds also came under criticism for discharging waste and polluting the waters of southern Caribbean islands.

 

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Comments (6) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Wendy - November 28, 2011 12:29 PM

Thanks for posting this story. I'm a cruiser and have enjoyed your website.
More stories are coming out about this Scientology cruise ship called the Freewinds. Its fascinating and we should all be 'on watch' when it's in port. There are lots of stories about forced labor and poor conditions from ex-members. Sad.

Chay - November 28, 2011 7:04 PM

There are lots of stories about other people being kept illegally in the bowels of that ship, and are still there. It operates between Curacao and the Colombian coast, so does not fall under US maritime law.
They seem to have punishment centres for the cult victims who try to leave all over the place, Saint Hill in England is another one. The Freewinds is the more disturbing because of the asbestos problem they have, the airconditioning is full of it, and I heard it was enough of a problem for a drydock crew somewhere near the Bahamas to pull out of refitting it as soon as they figured out how dangerous blue asbestos dust was.

Of course, cult members can't sue the cult. International law enforcement seems to ignore the problem.

Maybe it's up to the cruisers to take matters more urgently. This could affect the entire industry if dead bodies started showing up. If this kid was there 12 years you can bet there are older guys with no money left and no future stuck there too.

Dan - November 28, 2011 7:14 PM

In light of your Freewinds story, its kind of ironic that you are pictured on your profile with Greta Van Susteren, no?
I tried to get a local admiralty firm to look into what appears to be a substantial number of people exposed to asbestos on the Freewinds over several decades (the information is readily available via Google), but, also ironically, the firm has at least one Scientologist attorney and it never went anywhere.
There are other stories of false imprisonment, and other wrongs, that are also easily researched.
I, too have cruised and have otherwise been involved in the maritime industry.
Nice site, best wishes to you and yours.

Jim Walker - November 29, 2011 2:28 PM

Dan: Thanks for your comment. You're right, it is ironic that I am standing next to Greta. I forgot she was a Scientologist. Regards. Jim Walker

Ben - December 4, 2011 4:09 AM

Thank you for posting this interesting bit of news. The facts about Scientology abuse are finally coming out.

Heather G - December 6, 2011 8:58 AM

Now Ramana Dienes-Browning tells her own story of being pressed into service on the good ship Freewinds.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/12/ramana_dienes_browning_scientology_freewinds.php

There are more witnesses to corroborate their stories.

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