A lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday seeks to hold the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) accountable for its involvement in the death of Frank Olson, a bio-weapons scientist and covert CIA officer who worked at the United States Army’s “Special Operations” laboratory at Camp Detrick, Md. in the early 1950s.
Eric and Nils Olson, the victim’s sons, claim that their father had a crisis of conscience about continuing his research into the use of biological weapons and mind control techniques after witnessing extreme interrogations in which the CIA committed murder using the biological agents that he had helped to develop. Shortly afterwards, the lawsuit alleges, CIA officials drugged Olson with LSD and then took him to New York under the pretense of psychiatric treatment by a CIA doctor who turned out to be an allergist. Plaintiffs claim that Olson was given alcohol and sedatives, and then was thrown from the 13th floor of the New York hotel room he was sharing with his CIA colleague on Thanksgiving weekend in 1953. Instead of apprehending those responsible and telling the Olson family the truth, the family says, the CIA closed ranks and embarking on a cover-up that continues to this day.
Following Olson’s death, the United States informed his widow and three children that Olson had died in a terrible accident and due to his disfigurement, they should not view the body.
In 1975, after post-Watergate scrutiny of federal intelligence abuses, the United States announced Olson’s death was not an accident after all, but the result of an LSD-related suicide.
In 1995, Eric and Nils Olson had their father’s body exhumed and an autopsy performed. The autopsy found a previously undisclosed wound consistent with a blow to the head. The New York District Attorney’s Office reopened its investigation into Olson’s death, ultimately reclassifying the official cause of his death from “suicide” to “unknown.”
“The evidence shows that our father was killed in CIA custody” Eric Olson said in a press statement.
“We need to put an end to this story of murder and deceit; it is time to do what is right. And our job is to ensure that happens,” said Scott Gilbert, lead counsel and founder of Gilbert LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm focused on strategic risk and litigation consulting and on insurance recovery.
The CIA continues to claim that it has given the family a complete and accurate presentation of what happened to Olson.
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