Breath guru under surveillance

Paris, France - FRENCH authorities are monitoring a retreat organised by a Queensland New Age guru, whose controversial philosophy has been linked to the deaths of three people.

Ellen Greve, who calls herself "Jasmuheen", promotes what they call Breatharian, spiritual cleansing by living on air and light alone.

The 48-year-old claims to have eaten nothing since 1993.

Greve is holding a seminar in the south-eastern village of Devesset in France but local police are concerned it may be a dangerous cult.

The gathering has been put under high surveillance, the head of the French government's anti-sect unit told today's Le Parisien newspaper.

Jasmuheen's teachings have been linked with three deaths in recent years, including that of Australian environmentalist Verity Linn, found dead from starvation and dehydration in 1999 near a remote Scottish loch.

A diary near the naked South Australian's body showed she had attempted the 21-day food-free and liquid-free diet advocated by the Breatharian guru.

But Greve defended her teachings in the wake of Linn's death, saying she did not follow her guidelines.

That same year, a Queensland couple were sentenced to six years jail for manslaughter following the death of a woman they had supervised through the fasting process.

The philosophy also has been linked to the 1997 death of German kindergarten teacher Timo Degen.

In 2002, British police dismissed media reports Greve was connected to the death of Cambridge graduate Margaret Davies.

The 39-year-old Essex woman was found by two shepherds as she sheltered in a bothy (hut) at Cape Wrath.

Despite concerns about the seminar in France, police told Le Parisien there was nothing they could do to stop the gathering as all those attending were adults.