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“The Extraordinary Story of American refugees,” Fribourg, Switzerland

a newspaper article published while we were living in Fribourg, Switzerland (10 July 2004)
La Liberté, front page heading

The extraordinary story of American refugees, front page
La Liberté, front page photo

FRIBOURG: Last summer, the Gary Spaulding family made a petition for political asylum in Switzerland because they felt “persecuted” by the FBI. The petitioners were denied.

Americans asking for asylum in Switzerland. Not ordinary. But the Spaulding family’s story, it’s extraordinary. Feeling “tracked” by the FBI after having come to the aid of the Davidian cult in Waco, Gary Spaulding, his wife and their four children landed in Switzerland last summer. Convinced of being the victims of a series of persecutions, they refuse to return to their country. CHRISTOPHE BOSSET

La Liberté, page 11 heading

The strange story of the Spauldings, American asylum petitioners


An American family asking for political asylum in Switzerland? No! It’s not a joke and besides Gary Spaulding isn’t inclined to laugh since he and his own are threatened with being expelled from Swiss territory. An extraordinary story to say the least which started last summer when Gary Spaulding, accompanied by his wife and their four children aged from 5 to 12 years old, made a request of asylum and has been assigned to the district of Fribourg.

But why the devil such a petition when the United States is considered as a safe country? In a document including many pages and in four languages, this person explains his journey. It’s a narrative worthy of a police novel that he told to La Liberté. 52 years old, Gary Spaulding claims to be “pursued by the FBI” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, the American federal police) and that to return to the United States would constitute a “genuine deadly danger for him and his family.”


Everything started more than thirty years ago, when young Gary noticed “deeply unjust changes with regard to morality on the political level as well as an immense expansion of the power of the police.” Feeling “called of God,” the young man wished to act against these changes for the worst. This is the motivation. A “long story of persecutions” like he tells that starts near Chicago. Teaching languages, he was fired for having written a newspaper titled “a Jesus Newspaper.” “They wanted to throw God out of education and us with him.”

La Liberté, page 11 photo

The Spaulding family’s petition for asylum has been rejected. The Americans must leave Switzerland but are against returning to their country, fearing the threats of the FBI. They hope to be able to go to Paraguay. Photo: CHRISTOPHE BOSSET

Everything got worse in February 1993, when he tried with a friend to come to the aid of the Davidians, disciples of David Koresh in Waco (Texas). After 51 days of siege in a fortified ranch, some seventy members of the cult died, burned alive. Mass suicide or the fault of the FBI present at the site of the drama? The questions remain to this present moment without an answer.

“We knew thanks to the newspapers that the families were cut off from outside help. I went there on the 16th of April with a humanitarian convoy with the intent of helping them, but we were arrested by the FBI and we spent the night in jail. However, we aren’t members of that cult.” [We do not use the word cult, but “group.”]


According to the version of the American asylum petitioner, the tragedy at Waco was apparently a war crime because the FBI intended “to annihilate a group by exploding the ranch. They threw military gas on all of the people for six hours. They made holes in the walls with barrels of military tanks and machine-gunned whoever tried to escape.”

He said he still feels “tracked” by the American police. “They think that I was affiliated to the group and they treated me like a criminal! They put their blame on me.” A cult investigator had even been hired to follow and watch him, which left him shocked.

Ten years after the fact, the Spaulding family left their country fearing being arrested and “persecuted” by the FBI. “My wife and I were convinced that we would no longer be able to live peacefully and securely in the United States.” Contacted to express its point of view on this whole story, the American embassy in Bern didn’t dare to answer our questions.

After a detour to Spain [followed by Andorra] and later an expulsion (another blow from the United States, according to him), Gary Spaulding landed on Swiss soil last summer. He made a request of political asylum and continues the procedure. At the registration center of Vallorbe, he was assigned to the district of Fribourg. “The Swiss officials falsified the statements that we made in Vallorbe. They said that we didn’t leave the USA because of fear and they have refused us asylum,” explains a very worked up Gary Spaulding, as he added that his pregnant wife had had a miscarriage at the time of the occurrences. [Worse yet: the miscarriage was caused during the stressful interviews by the Swiss officials !] #

Translation from French by: L’abri

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