WASHINGTON -- The Church of Scientology asked Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist late Wednesday to prevent release of thousands of pages of internal documents allegedly taken by a former employee.
The church said the documents -- concerning the church, its founder L. Ron Hubbard and his wife -- were stolen and should be returned to the organization unopened.
The documents were to be released Thursday.
The documents were filed with the court by a former archivist who was sued by the organization for invasion of privacy. Although the archivist, Gerald Armstrong, lost the lawsuit, a judge ordered the documents released.
The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in 1982 against Armstrong. The church claimed he stole personal documents belonging to Hubbard, which he said would discredit the church founder. The documents included diaries, personal letters, military records and unpublished manuscripts.
The trial began May 3, 1984, before Superior Court Judge Paul Breckenridge who ruled Armstrong had invaded the church's privacy, but was justified in taking the documents to protect himself against potential lawsuits from the church.
In making his final ruling in August, which ordered the documents released to the public, Breckenridge called the church 'schizophrenic' and 'paranoid,' and said Hubbard suffered from 'egoism, greed and avarice,' and was 'virtually a pathological liar.'