CIA sued for murder of scientist

he Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia.(AFP Pgoto / Saul Loeb)
The family of a US intelligence agent that mysteriously died in 1953 has filed a lawsuit that accuses the CIA of committing murder.

The sons of deceased CIA officer Frank Olson allege in a lawsuit this week that their father was killed on the job nearly 60 years ago, despite the Central Intelligence Agency’s lost-standing claim that the death was a suicide.

Frank Olson was found dead outside the New York City Statler Hotel after what was originally described as a jump from the thirteenth floor carried out by his own accord. In 1975, a government report was made public that revealed Olson had been given LSD by his employers as part of a top-secret behavioral engineering project dubbed MKULTRA beforehand, and the drug has since been blamed for his alleged suicide. In the decades since, however, the case has been called into question due to a number of peculiarities, including how closely the alleged cover-up in the years since has come eerily close to the agency’s own policies.

“The circumstances surrounding the death mirrored those detailed in an assassination manual that, upon information and belief, the CIA had drafted that same year,” Scott Gilbert, a lawyer for the Olsons, writes in the complaint filed this week.

CIA spokesperson Preston Golson tells Bloomberg News that he cannot comment on a pending court case specifically, but suggests that the agency stands by their explanation.

“CIA activities related to MK-ULTRA have been thoroughly investigated over the years, and the agency cooperated with each of those investigations,” Golson said. “In addition, tens of thousands of pages related to the program have been declassified and released to the public.”

According to the complaint filed by sons Eric and Nils Olson, though, there is more to the story — just days before Frank Olson’s death, he allegedly informed a colleague that he had ethical concerns regarding the agency’s conduct and had planned to resign. That colleague, Vincent Ruwet, then accompanied the agent along with a CIA scientist to New York City so that Olson could see a doctor. There an allergist prescribed him sedatives and the alleged suicide occurred shortly thereafter.

When Olson was discovered dead, either Ruwet or the CIA scientist responsible for giving him LSD, Robert Lashbrook, made a phone call to an agency higher-up to inform them of the death.

“Well, he’s gone,” one person allegedly told the other in a phone call conversation included in the complaint.

“That’s too bad’,” the other responded.

According to a report this week published by Bloomberg, Eric and Nils Olson believe their father’s closed-casket funeral further covered-up the fact that Frank Olson had been bludgeoned by CIA agents before being tossed from the window. A 1994 investigation later all but confirmed that allegation, the complaint reads.

The New York District Attorney’s Office reclassified the cause of Olson’s death from “suicide” to “unknown” during the late 1990s. Now once again his sons are demanding they be told the truth.

“We want justice,” Eric Olson tells the New York Times. “This has cost me an immense amount of time and years of my life.”