Paul Haggis, the filmmaker and prominent ex-Scientologist whose story formed the backbone of Alex Gibney’s Scientology expose “Going Clear,” has alleged that a spy from the church pretended to be a Time reporter in order to get an interview with him.
According to Haggis, on April 7th he received an email from someone named Mark Webber, who claimed to be a Time magazine reporter seeking to interview Haggis for a piece about the "golden age of film."
When Haggis’ staff began to research Webber, it became apparent that there was no Time journalist with such a name, and Time magazine said they did not assign the piece nor do they have an employee named Mark Webber on staff. After further digging, it became apparent that the email was sent from a building owned by the Church of Scientology.
In an email to TonyOrtega.com, who first reported the story, Haggis speculated about the aims of the email, wondering the church was attempting a "bait and switch” where they might try to convert the phone interview into an in person interview. He described other incidents where he had been lured into Scientology offices under false pretenses, adding that the Church is "infamous for taking and using quotes out of context," including doctoring an image of Haggis in an orange jumpusit that he took for an Amnesty International campaign.
As Haggis explains:
"They constantly use a photo of me in an orange prison jump suit, and refer to me as the 'hypocrite of Hollywood.' They fail to mention that this is extracted from a photograph taken by Amnesty International, in which actors Mark Ruffalo, Martin Sheen, and I were asked to don the suits in order to protest endless incarceration without due process of law at Guantanamo. Mark and Martin mysteriously disappeared from the photo — I’m sure an unintended oversight by Mr. Miscavige — and the impression given is that, at one time or another, I was a long-time guest of the federal prison system."
"So is that what this was?" Haggis wonders. "An attempt to press me for some 'quote' that they could twist to fit the needs of their prestigious magazine? Or just general fishing. I don’t honestly know what they thought they could gain. But try they did."
Update: A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology sent the following statement denying any involvement:
"There is no one named Mark Webber at that address, there is no such IP address at the Anthony Building on Fountain Avenue, it does not exist. The
entire story is fabricated. A quick internet search does find a Mark Webber, a movie curator and writer who lives in England. Maybe it's him. May be he emailed Haggis. Who knows? The Church knows nothing about this."