Private investigator snooped on e-mail of Scientology critics

This afternoon, Eric Saldarriaga, a private investigator from Astoria, New York, will be sentenced in federal court for his part in a conspiracy to hack into the e-mail accounts of more than 50 individuals as part of his investigations. (He has pled guilty.) Among his victims are two prominent critics of the Church of Scientology, both of whom were recently featured in the book and HBO documentary film Going Clear.

Who were Saldarriaga's clients? That remains unclear; court documents haven't revealed it, and the transcripts of his guilty plea are still held by the court awaiting redaction. But both Scientology critics are now convinced that it was the church which set Saldarriaga on them. "There can be no doubt that one of Mr. Saldarriaga’s clients is Scientology," Mike Rinder, a former Scientology official and one of the victims notified by the US Attorney's Office, said in a written statement sent to the court.

Ars attempted to get a comment from a church of Scientology spokesperson, but did not receive a response in time for publication. We will update this story if we receive comment.

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