Chronicle of guru's trouble and flight

A federal prosecutor said Thursday that Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh should be held without bond because he is a danger to society, but defense attorneys said the guru, charged with immigration law violations, presented no danger to anyone. The bhagwan is an Indian guru, who claims a following of some 500,000 disciples worldwide. Since 1981 he and some 3,000 of his followers have lived in a commune called Rajneeshpuram in Oregon's Wasco County.

The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and more than 10 of his followers were arrested Monday at Charlotte-Douglass International Airport near Charlotte, N.C. Their arrest was requested by the US attorney of Oregon.

The bhagwan along with some of his followers have been named by a federal grand jury in indictments for conspiracy to make false statements to federal immigration officers and a string of immigration offenses such as harboring illegal aliens and arranging ``sham'' marriages between legal residents and aliens desiring permanent residency. The bhagwan's own legal status in the US has long been disputed.

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Reports indicate that the bhagwan and some 100 followers have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury on Nov. 20.

Since early fall of this year, the commune has been torn by inner strife that began when the bhagwan accused a number of his close associates with wire- tapping, arson, and attempted murder.

The bhagwan left the commune Sunday on a Learjet headed for Charlotte. Authorities say he was trying to flee the country. He has denied this, stating he was going on a vacation. It has not been determined as to whether or not he knew of the indictment charges before leaving the commune.--30--{et

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