- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2003

From combined dispatches

The guru of a sect that says it cloned the first human baby said yesterday that he would ignore a Florida court's summons. It requires him to appear at a hearing to decide whether to place the purportedly cloned infant under the court's protection.

Claude Vorilhon, who leads the Raelian sect and calls himself Rael, told Canadian public broadcasting television that he would "absolutely not" answer a Fort Lauderdale court order to appear Jan. 22 with other principals to the purported cloned birth, which has not been authenticated by scientific proof.

Mr. Vorilhon said late Thursday that DNA testing begun Tuesday to authenticate the cloning, the results of which were to have been released next week, was stopped after the Florida court issued its summons.

The developments came a week after the Raelians, and the Clonaid group it funds, announced the first human clone.

Mr. Vorilhon, a French national who claims contact with extraterrestrials in the 1970s, said he had ordered the DNA testing stopped because of the Florida bid to put the cloned infant, nicknamed "Eve," under court protection.

In Belgium, meanwhile, VTM television reported late yesterday that a second cloned baby was to be born to a lesbian couple in the Netherlands this weekend.

Clonaid head Brigitte Boisselier at first told the Flemish television network that the baby, a girl, would be born "in a country not far from here," but later told a VTM journalist by telephone that the baby would be born in the Netherlands.

The Raelians, who believe humans were cloned from aliens who landed on Earth 25,000 years ago, have been under international scrutiny since the group and Clonaid announced the first cloning Dec. 27.

Mr. Vorilhon said he had called Miss Boisselier to ask that promised DNA tests on Eve be halted because of the legal action in Florida. The tests were to be organized by American journalist Michael Guillen.

"The bad news two days ago was that a judge in Florida signed a paper saying that the baby, Eve, should be take from the family, from her mother," Mr. Vorilhon told CNN.

"I called [Miss Boisselier] immediately, because to take away this poor baby from a mother, I think this is completely crazy, just because she was cloned. So I called Doctor Boisselier, and I said, 'If I was you, I would not test anything.'"

According to CNN, Mr. Vorilhon had asked the network to refer to him as "his holiness" during the interview.

Florida lawyer Bernard F. Siegel said he had asked for a court to determine whether baby Eve should be placed under court protection.

"I was concerned that, if this is true, this child is an abused child, that it could have some serious genetic, fatal problems and that the child was being exploited by Clonaid," he said.

Mr. Siegel's petition to name the court as guardian was filed Tuesday in Circuit Court, juvenile division in Fort Lauderdale.

"The purpose of my lawsuit is to appoint a guardian for this child," Mr. Siegel said.

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