In 2005, the Supreme Court of Sweden agreed to grant political refugee status to Bivolaru in response to his claims of persecution by Romanian authorities.
On 14 June 2013, the High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania definitively sentenced Gregorian Bivolaru to 6 years in prison, without suspension, for sexual acts with a minor. Furthermore, he was acquitted for all the other charges against him (e.g. minor trafficking).
Gregorian Bivolaru, born in Tărtășești, Ilfov County, (now in Dâmbovița County), Romania, completed high school in Bucharest and the media sustains that he joined the Bucharest Metro company as a plumber in 1971 even if the enterprise was created in 1975. He began practicing yoga at the age of 17.
During the communist regime Gregorian Bivolaru was permanently kept under observation by the Department of State Security, because he was practicing and teaching yoga. He was jailed twice and forcefully hospitalized in a psychiatric ward (a solution adopted during the communist regime to get rid of undesirables because the communist ideology did not allow political prisoners). In 2012 two courts acknowledged that Gregorian Bivolaru was sentenced and jailed for political reasons during the communist regime ("the political nature of the convictions decided against the claimant by penal sentence no. 68/1977, penal sentence no. 960/1984 and of the claimant’s hospitalization ruled against him by penal sentence no. 616/1989").
In 1977, he was framed on the charge of distributing pornographic materials and sentenced to one year in prison, but he did not complete it due to an amnesty granted for all minor convictions by the President of Romania Nicolae Ceauşescu. On 17 April 1984, he was arrested for the conspiracy against Nicolae Ceaușescu. After weeks of torture he escaped from the Securitate imprisonment. He was captured a few days afterwards, then tried only on the charges of escaping from prison and sentenced to 18 months in jail.
In 1989 he was arrested again, although charges were never made against him. The communist regime put him this time into the High Security Mental Hospital of Poiana Mare - a place used to “make lost” political dissidents - with the recommendation to be put under strong medication, together with prisoners with real mental diseases. We have to mention here that despite the risk of opposing a despotic order, Dr. Leonard Hriscu, refused to give him the respective medication considering the diagnosis to be made up (see doctor statement in the movie “Who is afraid of Gregorian Bivolaru?”).
In Romania, yoga was forbidden in 1982, in connection with the “Transcendental Meditation scandal”, whose victim Gregorian Bivolaru was also. Yoga was illegal in Romania until December 1989, the time of Romanian Revolution. After it, Gregorian Bivolaru founded the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA). MISA has been founded as a non-profit association, by judicial decision on January 23, 1990, by the Court of Bucharest’s First District. It has a socio-professional, philosophical and educative character, aiming to increase the spiritual level of people by spreading the yoga knowledge and practices. MISA included lectures on related disciplines such as Kashmirian philosophy and Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine). The yoga courses were first held in Bucharest but quickly spread all over the country.
Finnish broadcasting company Yle published a program under MOT series on MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru. In the program, ex-Natha members were interviewed. Natha is described as being rooted to Romanian MISA movement. The interviewees described controversial activities like vomiting as a way of purification. Also sexual tendencies like pornography and sexual relations with the teachers and pupils were reported. A representative of Finnish Natha commented that sex is always a matter between the two persons. Seppo Isotalo, a human rights activist who tried to help MISA in confortration with Romanian authorities, described MISA as follows:
It has all the characteristics of a cult: one truth, one leader, and it isolates the dissident.
Gregorian Bivolaru was an honorary member of European Yoga Council until April 2008, when he was expelled from it and from all affiliated branches.
Shri Yogacharya Ajita, as President of the European Yoga Council of European Yoga Alliance and Honorary Secretary of the European Federation of Yoga for the European Union, announced the following to the International Yoga Federation : "My official resolution as president of the European Yoga Council of the European Yoga Alliance is that Mihai Stoian, Grieg Bivolaru and all people linked to the MISA/NATHA organization are immediately expelled from our organization and that we stop their membership, because it has been proven that they are not busy with Yoga in whatever form, that they even use Yoga as a cover for illegal practices, that they do not respect the rules and standards of our organization, that they show an unheard lack of moral integrity, and cannot be convinced to change their attitude."
According to The Times of India, MISA currently operates under different names in different countries. It is Natha in Denmark and Portugal, Tara in the US and UK and Satya in India.
Gregorian Bivolaru has been victim of two serious attempts on his life (in 1994 and 1995).
Police abuses where recorded in 1997 by 2 major human rights organizations: APADOR-CH and Amnesty International.
On 18 March 2004 the authorities - prosecutors, police, gendarmes, secret services - started an unprecedented intimidation campaign documented by the APADOR-CH (the local branch for the International Helsinki Committee for Human Rights) and reported by the IHF 2004 report.
On 28 March 2004 Gregorian Bivolaru was detained for “attempt of fraudulent crossing of the border” at Nadlac Customs, under the conditions in which he was in the Customs building, had a perfectly valid passport on him and was not confined to the border. He was then taken to Bucharest. The Bucharest Court, had issued an arrest warrant for 29 days on the name of Gregorian Bivolaru, but under another accusation: an alleged sexual relations with a minor.
After two days of investigations, the Appeal Court from Bucharest disposed setting Gregorian Bivolaru free. Although the decision had been taken at 17.00, he was set free only at 23.00 same day, in the mean time he was moved by the gendarmes, wearing hand-cuffs, from The Appeal Court to the Court of Law of district no 5 then to Penal Investigations Department, then back to Court of Law of district no 5, all of these confusing the journalists, the public and his lawyers.
Another warrant of arrest was issued on 31 May 2004 against Mr. Bivolaru, who flees the country.
In 2005, he was charged with eight counts, including sex with a minor, tax evasion, and illegally crossing the border to escape prosecution. In March 2005, Bivolaru asked for asylum in Sweden, claiming that he feared persecution in Romania. On April 4, 2005, the Swedish police of Malmö detained Bivolaru. The accusation of having sex with a minor was based on a declaration given by a 17-year-old girl who later retracted the accusation, saying it had been given under pressure. On April 15, the Romanian Police issued a second warrant in his name, in which he was accused of "human trafficking and other charges related to organized crime" (related to an allegedly sequestration of some persons in some ashrams and forcing them to work without being paid).
The judicial campaign against MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru was synchronized with a huge media manipulation campaign
On 21 October 2005, the Supreme Court of Sweden rejected the extradition request and set Bivolaru free. The Supreme Court judges concluded that Bivolaru would not receive a fair trial in Romania. Anette Swedow, the chief prosecutor in the Gregorian Bivolaru case declared: "The final decision is that should Bivolaru be extradited in Romania, he runs the risk of being deported, persecuted and harassed, because of his religious businesses he applies within the yoga movement."
The Supreme Court decision was based on the expertise of Skop research and Karl Eryk Nylund, sect expert.
This decision was relayed to the Romanian Ministry of Justice on 16 December 2005. In response, the Romanian Justice Minister, Monica Macovei, sent the general prosecutor a request to verify the manner in which the investigations in this case took place. The same request has been sent to the president of the Romanian Supreme Court, Dan Lupaşcu.
The decision of the Swedish Immigration Authority that Gregorian Bivolaru should be granted political asylum was made public on the last day of 2005.
Currently the case is under monitor by independent organizations who fight for reforms in the Romanian Justice, like "SoJust". The September 2006 alternative report in the Human Rights chapter shows:
The prosecutor now investigates organized crime and human traffic cases concerning some of the MISA members. One has instituted the measure of “insuring arrestment” on 70 buildings for covering the damages that they claimed. Officially, one has noted that, under the cover of courses for initiation in the yoga practices, the investigated persons attracted, manipulated and exploited the participants (of whom many were minor) to their own personal interest, thus endangering their psychic development. Nevertheless, from the contradictory data published by the media, there are only 8 victims. Some of the investigated persons were sent to trial. A completely unusual thing for Romania, the entire indictment was made public by the penal prosecution body, which among violating the rights to an equitable trial and the protection of the investigated persons’ private life, may be yet another element for the manipulation of public opinion.
With all the internal investigations performed by the CSM or the judiciary ones performed as a consequence to the filed complaints, the presumptive negative aspects concerning the actual development of the investigation were not cleared up. From the 55 penal complaints that were filed in May 2004, only 9 were retained in view of solving at the Prosecutor’s Office, and those for a single offence. The rest got a non-prosecution resolution, without even questioning the victims; at present, this resolution is appealed at the Supreme Court.[..]
The inefficiency of the internal investigations concerning the claimed abuses is all the more serious as Bivolaru got the asylum and then the refugee status in a foreign country. From this viewpoint, the competence or the bona fide of the Romanian bodies is seriously questioned.
The lawyers of Gregorian Bivolaru filed two applications to the European Court for Human Rights. The applications cover the violations that occurred while issuing the two arrest warrants.
On January 18, 2011, Bivolaru's trial was, for the tenth time, postponed again until March 23, 2011, marking his case as one of the oldest in the Cluj court. This trial for human trafficking is still pending, but the unconstitutionality exceptions invoked by the suspects were already rejected.
The solution in another trial, held at the Sibiu court, was that the charges were dropped, partly due to lack of evidence for some charges (the prosecutors refused to show authorization for performing the taps, considering it a state secret, so evidence was dropped) and partly due to exceeding the statute of limitations corresponding to the charges.
Bivolaru has requested damages from the Romanian state for being sentenced to mandatory psychiatric treatment during the Communist regime.
On 14 June 2013, the High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania definitively sentenced Gregorian Bivolaru to 6 years in prison, without suspension, for sexual acts with a minor (17 and 1/2 years old girl), D.M., who says she never had sexual relations with Gregorian Bivolaru, but she was forced to declare so after 10 hours of police investigation in absence of parents or lawyer. Furthermore, he was acquitted for all the other charges against him (e.g. minor trafficking). Also on the same day, Court Judge Ionuț Matei has received a letter threatening him and his family of consequences. To announce this he organized a press conference before the final court session .
On 27 February 2016 Bivolaru was arrested in France. After extradition from France, he is imprisoned in Romania. He has requested a retrial.
He has to do one year and three months less than six years, since he has already spent this time in detention.
Alba Iulia Court of Appeals has rejected Bivolaru's demand for a retrial.
On 13 September 2017 he was conditionally released from prison.