Forty-one people were arrested in France, suspected of being linked to an international sectarian network accused of numerous abuses under the guise of practicing tantric yoga, Agence France-Presse (AFP) learned, confirming information from Libération, and RFI Tuesday November 28. Among those arrested is Gregorian Bivolaru, the Romanian guru and founder of this international yoga movement.

The man at the head of the Atman federation, formerly called the Movement for Spiritual Integration towards the Absolute (MISA), is suspected of having indoctrinated female followers of his organization to sexually exploit them. Gregorian Bivolaru was arrested during a vast operation against his network: some 175 police officers were mobilized, coordinated by the Central Office for the Repression of Violence against Persons, in Paris, in Seine-et-Marne, in Val-de -Marne and in the Alpes-Maritimes. During the arrests, twenty-six women, several of whom were under influence, were released, a source close to the investigation told AFP.

Human trafficking

This movement has numerous yoga schools and other branches of which it is “difficult to quantify the number of followers”, but “it’s several hundred people”, explains a source close to the matter to AFP. A judicial investigation was opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office in July 2023, for abuse of weakness, rape, human trafficking and “organized gang kidnapping”.

At the end of July 2022, the Interministerial Mission for Vigilance and the Fight against Sectarian Abuses sent a report to the public prosecutor after being informed by the Human Rights League of twelve reports from former members of the MISA movement, specified a judicial source to AFP.

Libération recalls that Mr. Bivolaru had been convicted in Romania for rape of a minor and wanted by Interpol for trafficking in women. The Atman federation is present in around thirty countries, the majority of which are European. In France, it operates through the Yoga Integral association, present in Paris, Nice and Poitiers.