Talking highlights of 'Fair Game' with its author, Aussie journalist Steve Cannane - 2016-09-19
Steve Cannane's book Fair Game was released today around the world by HarperCollins (in Australia) and Silvertail Books (UK, US, Canada). Steve gave us an advance look at the book, and so we sent him some questions about some of the things we found really remarkable in it.
The Bunker: Fair Game begins with a harrowing tale of escape from the Sea Org. Conditions are so desperate in Scientology's private navy, you found a former member who had nearly starved while subsisting on grass in a city park just so he could elude his captors. We'll remind people that you also broke the Valeska Paris story with ABC, another hard to believe story about imprisonment involving a young woman in the Sea Org. And we've also heard about the labor camps near Sydney, including the stories of child labor and confinement. Steve, what is it about Australia and these brutal stories of mistreatment inside Scientology?
Steve: Sydney's RPF punishment camp, where Jose Navarro, Valeska Paris, and Chris Guider were all sent to, became a dumping ground for Scientology in the US. It's almost as if they didn't realize transportation to Australia ended in 1868. Jose's story is extraordinary - he was sent there because he fell in love with a woman on the Freewinds and Scientology decided that their relationship was forbidden. They separated the pair by sending Jose to Sydney. After he escaped, and as you mentioned, survived by eating grass in one of Sydney's most beautiful parklands, Australian authorities deemed that he was a victim of human trafficking and he was granted a protection visa on that basis. I start the book with Jose's story because it's an amazing tale that has never been told before and I wanted to frame the rest of the book in these terms, how do you get to a situation where an organization that calls itself a religion, that claims it believes in freedom and human rights, that is given tax exempt status as a charity, can enslave and traffic its members and treat Australia like its own personal penal colony? Jose's story becomes the launching pad for an investigation into Hubbard, Scientology, and how it all became intertwined with Australia.