29 Nov 2011

Woman claims she was prisoner on Scientology ship

9:13 am on 29 November 2011

An Australian woman claims the Church of Scientology imprisoned her on its cruise ship for 12 years.

Valeska Paris was born into a Scientology family in Switzerland, but when she was 17 her mother denounced the movement.

Ms Paris says this led to her being taken to the Scientology cruise ship, the Freewinds,so her mother could not remove her from the church.

She told the ABC she ended up being on the ship for over a decade and was unable to leave the Freewinds for the first six years without an escort.

She says her passport was taken from her and she was forced to do hard labour in the engine-room.

The Freewinds is used as a base to deliver a high level counselling course known as Operating Thetan Level VIII. It cruises around the Caribbean docking at small islands.

In a statement the Church of Scientology said Ms Paris' claims were false.

"She certainly wasn't "forced" to be there. She was also never forced to perform labour in the engine room," the statement said.