A Canadian documentary film team is being threatened with legal action from Christian televangelist Pat Robertson, all stemming from a film that charges Robertson with using a bogus charity to fund his diamond-mining business in Africa.
According to a report from Right Wing Watch this Friday, Robertson, along with the Christian Broadcasting Network, is threatening to sue the producers of “Mission Congo” which is set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival this weekend.
The film details how Robertson reportedly used money donated to his foreign ministry program Operation Blessing International to fund his diamond mining operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo — apparently for mining equipment and other business-related uses.
Another eyebrow-raising revelation in the film was Robertson’s deception in his promotion of Operation Blessing, using images of doctors and tents that were originally from the international aid group Doctors Without Borders, claiming that the group had provided the tents and doctors. Robertson also falsely claimed that Operation Blessing was the main source of aid to the war-torn region.
Operation Blessing still pulls in millions of dollars a year — money that the film alleges Robertson is using to enrich himself and his family. According to testimony from former Operation Blessing workers featured in the film, humanitarian missions were routinely diverted hundreds of miles off-course to deliver supplies to Robertson’s diamond mining operation in the DRC province of Kamonia.
The film also features testimony from Jessie Potts, who was Robertson’s operations manager in Goma, Congo back in 1994. Potts claims that when Operation Blessing did provide medicine to refugees, it wasn’t the right kind. When medics needed drugs to fight a cholera epidemic that was breaking out among refugees streaming in from Rwanda to Zaire, they got Tylenol instead.
“I never did understand that,” Potts said. “We got enough Tylenol to supply all of Zaire. God, I never saw as much in my life.”
Apparently the medical supplies stopped coming altogether. Speaking to the filmmakers, former pilot Robert Hinkle said that he was instructed to stop transporting medical supplies and to start transporting mining supplies instead.
“They began asking me, ‘Can we haul a thousand-pound dredge over?’ I didn’t know what the dredging deal was about,” Hinkle said. “Mission after mission was always just getting eight-inch dredgers, six-inch dredgers, […] and food supplies, quads, jeeps, out to the diamond-dredging operation outside of Kamonia.”
Dredgers are used to remove diamonds from riverbeds. The flights were funded by the African Development Company, a firm owned by Robertson.
The developments surrounding Operation Blessing come in addition to the recent controversy surrounding a broadcast from CBN’s 700 Club, where Robertson claimed that gays infected with HIV wear special rings that cut people and infect them with the disease. CBN removed the video from its website and has since aggressively pushed Youtube and other media outlets to remove the video, claiming copyright infringement.