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Scientologists appeal French conviction

PARIS, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The Church of Scientology in France is appealing its 2009 organized fraud conviction, attorneys said.

The appeal, which opened Thursday in Paris, seeks dismissal of the conviction for allegedly manipulating others for financial gain, Radio France Internationale reported.

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Prosecutors had alleged the church's bookshop and headquarters in Paris manipulated vulnerable people for profit. The 2009 legal case focused on a woman who said she spent her life savings of nearly $29,000 on Scientology products.

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Scientology, founded in 1954 by U.S. science fiction writer Ron Hubbard, is viewed as a sect in France and not a recognized religion.

The Celebrity Center and SEL bookshop in Paris were fined $82,000 following the 2009 conviction but were allowed to continue operating. Leading French Scientologist Alain Rosenberg, one of the leaders convicted in the 2009 trial, is also involved in the appeal.

RFI said Eric Roux, a spokesman for the Scientologists, said he hoped the trial would "bring out the truth in this matter, which was judged in a scandalous manner the first time."

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