The Incredible "Conspiracy" of Teresio Delfino

In Italian: Il grandioso complotto di Teresio Delfino

Teresio Delfino

On June 29, 2000, Teresio Delfino, an Italian MP first elected on a right-wing ticket, who then moved to the left (in time to become an undersecretary), and who has since moved back to the right, presented what must certainly be one of the weirdest questions submitted in recent years (Interpellanza 2-02507, 29.06.2000, seduta n.751).

He demanded to know what measures the Government intended to take to suppress the "extremely serious and worrisome" activities of a "truly criminal conspiracy" set up in order to spread critical information about the multinational corporation Scientology. One of the "cleary illegal" activities the alleged conspirators were accused of consisted precisely in submitting "questions in Parliament."

The core of the alleged plot is a peaceful website, Allarme Scientology, deemed guilty of publishing information (which is always carefully checked and never denied) about the activities of the US multinational. The MP calls on the Government to take "legal action" against this site, actually mentioning law 25/6/93, # 205, which calls for six years in prison, withdrawal of the driving licence and even seizure of the offender's home (but in his question, Delfino gets his laws mixed up, citing instead "law # 122").

Extraordinary claims, they say, require extraordinary evidence. Teresio brings up only one piece of evidence:

"I the undersigned ask to pose a question to the President of the Council of Ministers, to the Minister of the Interior, to the Minister of Justice, in order to ask the following - whereas: on Internet, a site exists called TellItAll.Org […]. "

Tellitall is a website which claims to present the anonymous accusations of a repentant conspirator. The alleged conspirators describes a plot between the Speaker of the Parliament, Luciano Violante, CICAP (an association which studies paranormal claims) and the secret services guided by an unlikely "agent AKA" (another closely related source, as we shall soon see, calls in the well-known TV scientific journalist Piero Angela and the criminal milieu).

Delfino shows no doubt about the reliability of this proof. In fact, he does not ask the Government to investigate to find out whether the alleged plot exists; rather, he demands to know "what funds have been assigned to this 'operation' and whether the Ministry has paid for the work done by the infiltrated spies who co-operate with the functionary 'AKA'."

There are some interesting differences between the question and its only source. Delfino was clearly a little embarrassed, and only mentions a certain "LV" as one of the conspirators, whereas the site clearly names Luciano Violante. The site also devotes a full page to CICAP, the "Italian Committee for the Control of Paranormal Claims" - a body whose membership list includes some of Italy's most famous scientists - an issue which Delfino skips over.

Of course this plot, and the website Tellitall, are just about as credible as the infamous Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (but with a very provincial touch, reminiscent of those long-forgotten films which told the adventures of Agent 777, the Italian version of James Bond).

It is, however, very serious for an MP to accept at face-value ridiculous accusations made against the Speaker of the Parliament, and from such a source.

It is a serious matter too when a member of parliament demands "legal action" against a website guilty only of providing potential consumers with documented information (newspaper articles, court sentences and official documents of various governments) about a company, in this case Scientology.

There are two possibilities. Either Teresio Delfino has seen the website whose suppression he is demanding, and hence he is in bad faith when he speaks of "clearly illegal" activities.

Or else he stood up in front of the Italian parliament, adjusted his tie, and accused a website of which he knew nothing at all of "religious discrimination" and "espionage", demanding that the full force of the state should strike the people running it.

But now let us take a look at the whole story, and its main actors.

Real Actors


You can write that down in your book in great big letters. The only way you can control anybody is to lie to them."

(L. Ron Hubbard, "Technique 88")

Thus spoke Ron Hubbard, science-fiction author and creator of that extraordinary enterprise called Scientology.

My website usually deals only indirectly with Scientology. This time I shall speak a little more than usual about it, because the Tellitall story certainly inolves Hubbard's organization; but the main reason I am writing is that I find it intolerable - five centuries after Torquemada was laid to rest - for a politician to demand gaol sentences for people guilty of presenting documentation which may not be pleasing, but which is serious and reliable.

The Tellitall case has taken place in an atmosphere of growing intimidation against freedom of information on Internet; in recent years, there have been a great many actions, of various origin and involving various actors. The issue is quite entangled, and I am not claiming that different repressive initiatives are part of a single design, even though they have taken place at the same time.

To start with, here are the main actors in this story:

  • CESNUR, or "Centre for Studies on New Religions", with main offices in Turin, Italy, and involved in research on "new religious movements" or "cults." CESNUR was founded and is directed by a lawyer from Piedmont, Massimo Introvigne, a director of the right-wing movement Alleanza Cattolica and a member of the national committee of the right-wing party CCD (Centro Cristiano Democratico). Some years ago, Introvigne appeared in court in France as a witness in defence of Scientology, accused at the time of manslaughter and fraud; on August 15, 1996, Introvigne and James Gordon Melton - a Methodist who runs the US branch of CESNUR - signed a passionate public appeal in defence of Scientology.

  • The site you are reading now - Kelebek - with its "CESNUR Critical Page". This "Critical Page" has published documents of various kinds showing the strongly ideological nature of CESNUR. Documents which CESNUR was not apparently pleased to find on the web.

  • Teresio Delfino, MP elected in the same region and for the same coalition of parties as Introvigne. Formerly a member of the Liberal Party, then close to the Christian Democrat minister Donat Cattin, he entered the post-Christian Democrat world under the protection of Rocco Buttiglione, and got back into parliament in the joint list of the two right-wing Christian Democrat offshoots, CCD-CDU. Although sent to parliament to represent centre-right voters, he managed for a short time to get into the centre-left government of Massimo D'Alema, but he has now gone back to the right. Author - together with other MP's of CCD-CDU - of the draft law 972 of May 16, 1996 for "Setting up a list of operators of pranotherapy, astrology, natural healing and esotericism with the Chambers of Commerce." Although one may agree with the need to tax certain professions, Delfino's proposal met with strong criticism. The author showed a lack of culture in using the name of a respectable current of philosophy (esotericism) to name the continued practice of fraud, while putting a kind of therapy which may not always be scientific, but can be interesting, such as herbal therapy (not mentioned in the title, but in the draft law) on the same level as the activities of charlatans. Delfino also claims that the state is able to judge who can be admitted to this unusual "professional class" which, to quote the draft law, is supposed to "provide a service to the citizens."

  • Allarme Scientology, a critical site directed by Harry and Martini, presenting a large amount of articles and documents, mostly translated, on the activities of Scientology. It hardly ever takes a stand, but the very fact of presenting documents on Scientology, according to the logic of the multinational corporation, becomes an attack on Scientology, which must be paid for at a high price. If anybody tends to investigate Scientology,

"Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them.

Don't ever tamely submit to an investigation of us. Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way."

(HCOPL February 25 1966, "Attacks on Scientology")

Since there were no grounds whatsoever to sue the site on, the activists of Scientology had to invent a series of schemes at least to find out who Harry and Martini were.

One might wonder why discovering Harry and Martini's past should be so important. The founder of Scientology explains the reason in his usual sober and effective style:

"1. People who attack Scientology are criminals.

2. That if one attacks Scientology he gets investigated for crimes.

3. If one does not attack Scientology, despite not being with it, one is safe.".

(L Ron Hubbard, Executive Directive ED 149 INT 2 December 1966 "Branch 5 Project, Project Squirrel")

Now, it is not easy to look for "crimes" in the past of two people whose identities are unknown; hence the need to find out who they are.

Allarme Scientology however has not only had problems with Scientology. Between autumn 1998 and spring 1999, it hosted my "Critical Page on CESNUR".

  • CICAP or "Italian Committee for the Control of Paranormal Claims", a body whose scientific sponsors include Nobel prize winners Rita Levi Montalcini and Carlo Rubbia, scientists Silvio Garattini, Margherita Hack, Tullio Regge, Giuliano Toraldo di Francia, and which enjoys the public support of Umberto Eco. The TV journalist Piero Angela was one of the founders. The conspiracy site Tellitall has a lot to say about the Committee, and invents such secret agents for it as "Kojak" and "Edo Viggiani alias Edo". In the real world, CICAP never dealt with Scientology, so it is hard to understand why the authors of Tellitall decided to hurl such accusations. However, there may be an explanation: CICAP has informal relations with the US sceptic group Csicop and its magazine, The Skeptical Inquirer, which have been under fire from Scientology for the last twenty years:
  • An article by John Marshall in the Toronto Globe and Mail, January 25, 1980 ("Cult order sought to end scientists' criticism") tells how Scientology launched "Program: Humanist Humiliation" in order to "handle terminatedly the Humanist publication Zetetic [now The Skeptical Inquirer] and the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal so that they never attack Scientology or Dianetics again." The order, addressed "WW", i.e. "worldwide", told the

    "World-Wide Guardians Office (with duties ranging from press relations to espionage) to spread rumors that the CSICOP was a front set up by the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Government spy network, "to discredit any and all psychic phenomena in order to keep this subject under CIA control ... and in order to squash paranormal research outside CIA."
    This would be done by forging a memo on CIA stationery and leaking it to selected people, including a few in the news media.

    • Diritti dell'Uomo, an official publication of the Italian branch of the Church of Scientology. Reading the autumn 2000 issue 2000 (vol. XI, publication 17) is basic to trying to understand the purpose of operation Tellitall. As one could expect, the magazine says:

    A 'repentant conspirator' has brought to light some highly credible evidence in the Internet site, revealing a network of spies operating in Italy. These spies are not carrying out operations of military intelligence or industrial espionage. Rather, they are trying to subvert a religious organization, one which has prevailed against every attempt to subvert it: the Church of Scientology. Hopelessly paralyzed by the lack of any evidence, the conspirators have apparently had recourse to criminal milieux to create evidence where it does not exist."

    One of the people "having recourse to the criminal milieu" seems to be Luciano Violante, speaker of the Parliament. Violante is mentioned by name on the website and the magazine repeats the accusations:

    "It seems that Violante is continuing with his "political act." In an e-mail reply published on between a functionary of the Ministry of the Interior and Martini, the owner of a website, mention is made of a certain LV whom the repentant conspirator identifies as Luciano Violante."

    Imaginary Actors

    We have met the real actors. Now we shall see, in chronological order, what they did and the imaginary personalities they created. Therefore the following is a list of both characters and events.

    The first sign of an organized campaign to suppress freedom of discussion about "cult" issues dates back to early August, 1998, when Introvigne called on US authorities to "monitor" cult critics in general, even internationally, though no reference was yet made to Internet. On the CESNUR website Introvigne boasts of having

    "held a closed doors private briefing with some top-level U.S. law enforcement officers specialized in religious crises. Again, the discussion focused on the reliability of information law enforcement agencies receive from apostates and from anti-cult associations, information that in the past has been proven as misleading and has caused serious problems. Dr Introvigne also suggested the existence of violence not only by, but also against new religious movements, and the need of monitoring the anti-cult movements for possible breaches of law at the national and international level."

    A few months later - and independently of course - the first little Gremlins started to hatch: electronic monsters exploiting the various possibilities offered by Internet.

    • MIAS. The first one was born on October 19, 1998, when a young man from Turin, an expert on Japanese manga comics, styling himself a leader of the "Italian Anti-Cult Movement" and boasting a large number of contacts, started writing to Harry and Martini, suggesting that they work together with him and repeatedly asking them for their real names and addresses. The young man also introduced himself to a member of GRIS (a Catholic association dealing with "cults") during a break at the CESNUR conference in Turin in September '98, saying he was the director of the Italian branch of CAN (originally an organization which was critical of cults, then taken over by militants of Scientology and others) and offering to work together. The young man at the time claimed that CAN and CESNUR were working together and that CESNUR referred people asking for help to CAN (Introvigne denied this co-operation on the website of the Rome branch of GRIS).

    It immediately became clear that MIAS was a trap, and not only because of the childish style used by the author of the messages. The people that the young man claimed as contacts either did not know him, or did not even exist. The whole castle of cards however came down when a look at the files of some newspapers showed that the overactive young manga expert had signed no less than four letters to the editor - with his own name - on behalf of Scientology, published in the dailies La Stampa, Il Giorno and La Nazione.

    Scientology's effects on people's intelligence must not be quite what they boast it is, if they had to recycle the same person for two such different operations; and especially if this person was not able to invent anything more brilliant tha the MIAS. The sorry but amusing details of the story can be read here.

    • Religiosus. Some months later, Italian and English language Usenet groups were flooded by about a hundred weird posts, mostly signed "Religiosus", and all with one purpose: insulting me for having opened the "CESNUR Critical Page". The episode became known as the "inflatable doll campaign", due to the polite invitation sent to me by Religiosus to go back to playing with inflatable dolls and leave CESNUR alone. However, worse than the insults were some forged posts written to put me in a bad light.

    What seemed an eccentric action by a disturbed person later turned out to be something quite different: in a message dated April 9, 1999, on, Religiosus openly proclaimed that:

    "Religiosus is a collective name and that messages under this name are posted by a number of different people, in different countries, all somewhat sympathetic to CESNUR views (but not necessarily members of CESNUR)."

    • Censorship. CESNUR did not limit itself to casting insults. On June 14, 1999, the provider hosting the CESNUR Critical Page gave in to threats and closed down the site, which reopened a few days later, thanks to a network of solidarity.

    • "Anti-Cult Terrorism". Surprises were not yet over. On August 5, 1999, during a conference of the Association for Sociology of Religion (ASR), in Chicago, Massimo Introvigne, putting aside his usually serious style, claimed the "Religiosus" campaign, apparently including the insults and forgeries. And he proclaimed the existence of a new sociological category, that of "extreme anti-cult terrorists", active on Internet. He provided listeners with nine examples of the category. They were websites of an extremely diversified nature; but eight out of nine had one thing in common - at one time or another, and for very different reasons, they had criticized Massimo Introvigne and CESNUR. Sites labelled as "terrorists" included mine and Allarme Scientology, guilty of having hosted my site for several months.

    • Paolo Galli. The "Centre for Studies on Freedom of Thought" was born and died within about one week, around New Years 1999-2000, at the URL Cloning the layout of a real American cult critic site, and stealing some articles here and there (from my site as well), the self-styled director of the Centre, "Paolo Galli" (whose picture on the page looked like that of an auctioner on TV) offered his professional advice "to all those who wish to free themselves and leave self-destructive [sic] cults". As a first step, he invited readers to fill out a questionnaire asking for full personal data and posing 26 detailed questions; all the person had in exchange was the e-mail address of Paolo Galli and his promise to call back by phone.

    As soon as he had been unmasked, Mr Galli slithered back into the electronic mist he had come from.

    The cloned site to the left, the cloning site to the right

    • In its spring 2000 issue, "Terrorism and Political Violence" (pp. 47-59) published a bizarre article by Massimo Introvigne titled "Moral Panics and Anti-Cult Terrorism in Western Europe". The article not only upholds the idea that the very existence of critical sites is "anti-cult terrorism"; it also insists on the need for active measures of repression:

    "Law enforcement, the article concludes, should focus on the minority of violent religious and millenialist movements and the small extreme anti-cult fringes."

    Translated, this means that playing with Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway and publishing documents on the totalist aspects of certain cults are two equally dangerous crimes.

    • Scientology: controllo mentale. A site opened around January 2000, apparently hostile to Scientology, as one can see from the very title.

    Odd, because in the small world of Italian cult critics, nobody knew the lady running the site; an idea of her mental level can be gained from the fact that she signed herself as "r0b3rta" or "Robi BiruBiru."

    The site was utterly insignificant. Some material picked up from Allarme Scientology without permission, a collection of "personal testimonies" which fit into the category of what a Scientologist thinks a critic thinks.

    Now we can clearly see that the site was set up only so that a brain the size of Mr Delfino's would think that there was a plot going on among several anti-Scientology sites; a single website can hardly be called a "conspiracy".

    In any case, Scientology controllo mentale - which according to Delfino "co-operated" with Allarme Scientology - had been publicly denounced by Martini of Allarme Scientology months before Delfino's question to parliament, in a note by Martini in Alessia Guidi's Guestbook, dated April 30, 2000:

    "I honestly do not see any great difference between the rough generalizations, the unfounded statements, gossip and suppositions I read on the site, and those that I read nearly every day on the sites or in the magazines of Scientology."

    The site disappeared in summer 2000.

    • Megaboy (names which seem to come from a Japanese manga abound in this story) opened another site "against" Scientology in March 2000. Set up stealing bits and pieces from other sites, the site closed down in May 2000.

    • Tellitall. This site - opened on May 5, 2000 - is the authoritative source Delfino's question to parliament is based on. Since it is the crucial evidence (as you prefer - of an anti-religious plot, or simply of the intelligence of the MP), we have copied the whole site and put it onto ours, before it changes or disappears. The mirror faithfully reflects the state of the site as it was on March 1, 2001, nothing having been changed except for the addition of a banner sending the reader back to this page.

    According to Delfino, the site "has the purpose of giving voice to complaints by citizens concerning various issues in the field of human rights around the world".

    And indeed the index.html page of the site ambituously offers us news from around the planet, subdivided into sections - "Continental Africa [sic]", China, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Bosnia, Italy, United Kingdom, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Canada, United States, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico…

    Now, let us take a look inside. One click suddenly turns off a China, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Brazil and Mexico - in fact, they all take you to the same page:

    "TellItAll.Org - Not much to tell yet 'cause we're under Construction."

    This is March 2001, in ten months they have found nothing else to write about any of these countries.

    Let us now look at the few surviving countries.

    "Continental Africa" [sic] has two links, boty of which lead to the same site, claiming that AIDS was deliberately created to exterminate blacks and homosexuals.

    Bosnia on the other hand takes us to an interview with a Serbian nationalist who complains about the one-sidedness of US policy. The link is again an outside one.

    United Kingdom takes us to another outside link, claiming that Princess Diana was killed by the secret service and also selling some breast-enlarging products.

    United States presents us with no less than four links, all however external: varies conspiracy theories about who killed Lincoln (one accuses the Jewish bankers, the other the Vatican); a small page describes a slave revolt in the 19th Century, and the last one did not open when we tried it, but seems to speak of the trouble an immigrant went through in the US.

    Ecuador, finally, takes us to a website whose very name is indicative of conspiracy thinking: "conspir".

    All that is left now is Italy. And here is where all the real content of the site is. In other words, this site which presents itself as international and registered in the US, actually contains only a few pages, all in Italian and which speak in a very confused fashion about a purely Italian issue.

    Now let us take a look at the site ID data:

    FISHERS, TN 38115

    FISHERS , TN 38115
    901 788 1741

    P.O. BOX 503
    MARLTON, NJ 08053

    DATABASE LAST UPDATED ON 29-DEC-2000 13:23:14 EST.


    This means that the owner of the site is a certain Mario Mazzerino, with a very Italian e-mail address,, who however claims to live in Fishers, Tennessee, USA. Oddly enough, a search for "Mario Mazzerino" on the Altavista White Pages - which include the phone directories of the USA - gives no result. Nor does any result come from a search based on the phone number given as that of the site owner (901 788 1741). We can also add the fact that nobody with the name Mario Mazzerino exists anywhere in Italy…

    The technical contact for Tellitall is Impact Computer Company, which does exist.

    In other words:

    - Tellitall belongs to a person who does not exist

    - the authors introduced a few random, external conspiracy links

    - the authors however had so little imagination that in ten months they were unable to come up even with an external link for fourteen out of twenty pages - But something far better is still to come. Remember the date the site was registered? May 5th, 2000. Now go to,. You will see that the supposed discoverer of the Plot claims he sent his dossier to Tellitall on... May 4th, 2000.

    - To all intents and purposes, Tellitall is simply a badly made frame around the Italian pages, which were not even translated into English.

    This much should be clear to anybody, even to those who know nothing about the controversies surrounding Scientology.

    Teresio Delfino, in his question, says that the "activities revealed" on the website are "extremely detailed and with accurately described circumstances". Somebody commented that even an idiot could see that the site was a trap; however Mr Delfino of course is not an idiot.

    • On December 2, 2000, Eileen Barker, director of the British association "Inform", very close to CESNUR, organized a seminar at the London School of Economics on "New Religious Movements and Law Enforcement." Considering the campaign by CESNUR to suppress critical sites by legal and other means, it is interesting to skim through the list of speakers:

    - Massimo Introvigne
    - "a spokesperson from Scientology's crime-reduction programme
    - Eileen Barker
    - a prison chaplain
    - a pleasant eccentric who goes under the name of "King Arthur Pendragon".

    If we remember that "crime" and "criticism", for Scientology, are more or less synonyms, it is not hard to imagine what "crime reduction" could mean.

    Defending Freedom of Information

    For about two years, then, there has been a campaing to suppress those sites which offer critical documentation about multinational "cults" or organizations which endorse them. The critical sites are not "anti-cult" in the sense that they do not rail against or condemn anyone, but simply spread information.

    These sites - such as Kelebek and Allarme Scientology - provide a very important social function: they offer potential consumers documented information about organizations which are constantly trying to recruit new customers. People can listen to both sides before making their informed choice. Obviously, similar sites can be more bothersome than "anti-cult" sites since they provide unwelcome facts and not contrary opinions; however it is not the fault of the critical sites if such facts exist.

    Are critical sites reliable? It is enough to remember that Allarme Scientology and Kelebek have unique adversaries: for the former, it is the most litigation-happy organization on the planet, for the latter, it is a partner of one of the most important law firms in Italy. Yet neither of these sites have ever been sued for having made one false statement or for having offended anybody.

    These sites are not opposed by other sites, which dialogue or which criticize the critics. There are threats, traps, accusations of "terrorism" and fantastic conspiracy theories based on false evidence.

    We have told the facts in chronological order. This does not mean that all the events mentioned are necessarily related to each other. A sophisticated writer like Introvigne is hardly likely to be the author of something like Tellitall, and the fact that Introvigne and Delfino both come from the same political milieu and the same part of Italy may well be merely coincidental.

    No doubt Introvigne was telling the truth when he denied any connection to the "Italian Anti-Cult Movement", although it is a bit surprising to see him not so long after speaking next to a Scientologist on how to prevent "crime".

    Of course, it is natural for extremist organizations to do whatever they can to silence their critics.

    What is however deplorable is that people who go around with an air of authority should lend their support to threats and false conspiracy theories. This is what Massimo Introvigne does when he publicly claims that publication of critical documents on "cults" is "terrorism" and calls on the law enforcement authorities to "monitor" people who commit such dangerous deeds.

    It is equally serious that a Member of Parliament of the Italian Republic should lend his authority to a document which accuses the Speaker of the Parliament of being the leader of an "anti-religious network" and should demand years in gaol for people who had the courage to present publicly availabe documents about a US company. Basing himself on a website which looks like a Japanese manga.

    Miguel Martínez

    March 2001