Cloneaid President Bragged About Free Publicity Following Cloning Claims

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 10, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Cloneaid President Bragged About Free Publicity Following Cloning Claims

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 10, 2003

Montreal, Canada ( — Last year, a scientific group affiliated with the Raleian religious sect received worldwide media attention for its claims that it produced not one but several cloned human beings. Those claims may have a been a huge publicity stunt.

According to two journalists who infiltrated Cloneaid, the group’s president bragged about the free publicity and notoriety Cloneaid received following several announcements that it had cloned babies across the world.

In December 2002, Clonaid President Brigitte Boisselier said her group was the first to produce a cloned baby. On December 26, a 31 year-old American woman supposedly gave birth to the world’s first cloned baby at an undisclosed location. Announcements of other successful clonings came in the months following.

The Montreal Gazette reports that Boisselier laughed at a July meeting about the publicity the group had obtained, saying, "Come, my good journalist friends, ask me if we did all that to have free publicity. Yes!"

"When I amused myself playing with the journalists," Boisselier said recalling one of the cloning announcement news conferences, "you had to see what a zoo it was that day."

Reporter Brigitte McCann, who spent time with the Raelians, said that the alleged cloned infant was a "taboo topic" among members of the sect. McCann said, "They didn’t want to talk about it," adding, "They were very, very careful"

"And Boisselier, herself, told me she didn’t set foot in the laboratory because she was afraid of being followed there," McCann, a Journal de Montréal reporter, added.

Rael, the group’s founder, has made other remarks that made it appear the cloned babies were nothing more than a publicity stunt.

"Even if you want to think we only did that for publicity, it’s marvelous," Rael told the Canadian Press recently, "If that’s it, we are publicity geniuses. And if it is true, we are scientific geniuses, too"

"Even if Brigitte’s announcement turns out to be a joke (and I don’t think so), I’m sure all the new Raelians will warmly thank Brigitte for this ‘white lie’ that enabled them to join us," Rael wrote in a Raelian publication recently.

Cloneaid never provided proof that any babies were born or that they were cloned and scientists in the field doubted their claims from the beginning.

Clonaid, which declines to say where its facilities are, was founded in the Bahamas in 1997 by the head of a group called the Raelians. They contend the truth about the origin of life on earth was revealed to their founder, Rael, by a visitor from another planet. Boisselier, a Raelian bishop, said Clonaid retains "philosophical” but not economic links to the group.

Clonaid Vice President Thomas Kaenzig, made news last year with a death threat against pro-life advocates.

He said he has had death threats made against him — "I receive about one death threat an hour (by e-mail)" — but he issued one of his own against pro-life people who oppose what his cult is doing.

"There’s too many religious zealots in this country who could use a bomb like at abortion clinics," he said.