Scientology critic Keith Henson free after serving four months

It’s been close to three years since Keith Henson left Brantford and ran for the border, just ahead of the authorities who wanted to deport him to the U.S.

The Scientology critic had lost his battle to stay in Canada.

He arrived in Canada in 2002 to avoid being jailed in the U.S. over his anti-Scientology activities, which included picketing various sites and posting some Scientology information on the Internet.

Who is Keith Henson?

And why is the Scientology cult after him? Did Henson threaten Scientology? Or has the cult — known for its use of hate and harassment tactics against critics — once again managed to abuse the legal system?

An engineer, Henson lived and worked in Brantford for three years.

When a deportation order was signed in 2005, he left for the border a day earlier than authorities planned – a move that caused him to forfeit his $10,000 bond.

Henson had earlier been convicted of criminal threats and, after his eventual arrest in Arizona, he was sent to California and given a six-month sentence.

After serving four months of that sentence – much of it in solitary confinement – Henson is a free man and newly in possession of a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada that assures him his application is still under consideration.

In fact, says the letter, the application for permanent residence in Canada – which Henson applied for on compassionate and humanitarian grounds – has been forwarded to Niagara Falls, where a single decision-maker will now assess it.

“I don’t understand it,” Henson said from his Arizona home this week.

“Canadian bureaucracy aside, three years seems like an unusual time.”

Aside from the time it took to consider his plea, Henson said it’s ironic that the same government that “decided to kick me out of the country” now says it’s still deciding on his application.

If, for some reason, the government eventually approves his claim, Henson said he wouldn’t be adverse to returning to Canada.

“It’s a little late since I’ve already been in jail and (solitary confinement) but, yeah, if they decided in my favour, I would probably come back to Canada, maybe to go to Vancouver.”

Meanwhile, Henson is remaining mum about Scientology.

As a condition of his probation, he is forbidden to do anything that bothers a Scientologist.

“If I say anything that annoys a Scientologist I go back to jail.”

In fact, his three-year probation, available through the Riverside, Calif., court web pages, orders him to avoid any negative contact with any Scientologist, not to come within 1,000 feet of a Scientologist and not to annoy or harass any member of the group.

Henson is living quietly in his Arizona home. If he goes outside, it’s behind a six-foot fence.

“I still fear for my life. My problem is that I haven’t been paranoid enough in the past.”

There’s been a tremendous upsurge in activity against Scientology in the last two months with a group called Anonymous leading protests, even in Canada.

When asked if he’s behind Anonymous, Henson responds with a firm “no.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday March 7, 2008.
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