The French authorities arrested Gregorian Bivolaru, a 71-year-old Romanian yoga guru, alongside 41 others on serious allegations of kidnap, rape, and human trafficking on December 3.
The founder of the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA), later known as Atman – the International Federation of Yoga and Meditation, Bivolaru was accused of exploiting his followers under the guise of spiritual enlightenment.
Victims were reportedly indoctrinated and manipulated into non-consensual sexual relations, with promises of spiritual awakening.
The operation, which involved 175 police officers across Paris and other regions, also uncovered 26 individuals living in squalid conditions, believed to be victims of the sect. This arrest followed a year-long investigation triggered by reports from former members and culminated in preliminary charges including human trafficking in an organised band and abuse of weakness.
Bivolaru, who had previously fled Romania while on conditional release, is also wanted by Interpol for aggravated trafficking in human beings and sexual assault at Finland’s request.