Scientist Frank Olson was drugged with LSD and 'murdered by CIA'
A US government scientist was drugged by CIA agents and then thrown to his death from the 13th floor of a Manhattan hotel after he learned about secret torture sites in Europe, according to a lawsuit filed by his family.
The sons of Dr Frank Olson claim that their father was murdered in 1953 after he discovered that his biological research was being used to torture and kill suspects in Norway and West Germany.
After raising concerns about the killings, Dr Olson was allegedly given LSD in a glass of brandy and then executed by the CIA, triggering what his family claims is "a multi-decade cover-up that continues to this day".
The scientist began working with the spy agency in the 1950s and focused on biological weapons that could be transmitted through the air.
During his travels in Europe he "witnessed extreme interrogations in which the CIA committed murder using biological agents that Dr Olson had developed".
The lawsuit gives no details about the reported deaths in Europe and the Ministry of Defence would not comment on Dr Olson's activities in Britain.
A MoD spokesman said that Porton Down had been used to develop countermeasures to biological weapons and "part of this work included ongoing collaboration with our international allies, including the US".
Dr Olson was apparently shaken by what he had seen and returned to the US resigned to resolve from the agency. On November 19, 1953 he was taken to a secret meeting Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, where he was given LSD hidden in a glass of brandy.
Days later he was brought to New York for "psychiatric treatment" by CIA officials who allegedly told his family that he had become unstable and violent.
At 2.30am on November 28, Dr Olson went through the window of the Statler Hotel's room 1018a, which he was allegedly sharing with a CIA doctor, and died in the street below.
The CIA initially claimed his death was an accident but in the 1970s, as its activities were investigated in the wake of the Watergate scandal, it admitted that he had been drugged and said that his death was a suicide.
Dr Olson's family was paid a settlement and invited to the White House by President Gerald Ford, who apologised for the government's concealment of the drugging.
However, the family remained unsatisfied with the government's account and in 1996 exhumed Dr Olson's body and claimed to have found evidence of a blow to the head suffered before his fall.
Prosecutors in New York re-opened an investigation and although they were unable to turn up new evidence decided to change Dr Olson's cause of death from "suicide" to "unknown".
The family are now suing the government, claiming that the CIA is continuing to conceal files relating to their father's death.
“The evidence shows that our father was killed in their custody. They have lied to us ever since, withholding documents and information, and changing their story when convenient," said Eric Olson.
A CIA spokeswoman said that its covert programmes of the 1950s had been "thoroughly investigated" and that "tens of thousands of pages related to the program have been declassified and released to the public.”
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Family sues US over scientist's mysterious death
Posted: Nov 28, 2012 3:56 PM CST
Updated: Nov 28, 2012 5:26 PM CST
By By FREDERIC J. FROMMER
WASHINGTON (AP) - The sons of a Cold War scientist who plunged to his death in 1953 several days after unwittingly taking LSD in a CIA mind-control experiment sued the government Wednesday. They claimed the CIA murdered their father, Frank Olson, by pushing him from a 13th-story window of a hotel - not, as the CIA says, that he jumped to his death.
Sons Eric and Nils Olson of Frederick, Md., sought unspecified compensatory damages in the lawsuit filed in federal court, but their lawyer, Scott D. Gilbert, said they also want to see a broad range of documents related to Olson's death and other matters that they say the CIA has withheld from them since the death.
Olson was a bioweapons expert at Fort Detrick, the Army's biological weapons research center in Maryland. Their lawsuit claims the CIA killed Olson when he developed misgivings after witnessing extreme interrogations in which they allege the CIA committed murder using biological agents Olson had developed.
The CIA had a program in the 1950s and '60s called MK-ULTRA, which involved brainwashing and administering experimental drugs like LSD to unsuspecting individuals. The project was investigated by Congress in the 1970s.
Olson consumed a drink laced with LSD by CIA agents on Nov. 19, 1953, the suit says. Later that month, after being taken to New York City purportedly for a "psychiatric" consultation, Olson plunged to his death.
At the time - when Eric and Nils Olson were 9 and 5 years old, respectively - the CIA said he died in an accident and did not divulge to his family that Olsen had been given LSD.
But in 1975, a commission headed by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller released a report on CIA abuses that included a reference to an Army scientist who had jumped from a New York hotel days after being slipped LSD in 1953. Family members threatened to sue, but President Gerald Ford invited the family to the White House, assuring them they would be given all the government's information. CIA Director William Colby handed over documents and the family accepted a $750,000 settlement to avert a lawsuit.
In an email, CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said that while the agency doesn't comment on matters before U.S. courts, "CIA activities related to MK-ULTRA have been thoroughly investigated over the years, and the agency cooperated with each of those investigations." She noted that tens of thousands of pages related to the program have been released to the public.
In a statement, Eric Olson said that the CIA has not given a complete picture of what happened to his father.
"The evidence shows that our father was killed in their custody," he said. "They have lied to us ever since, withholding documents and information, and changing their story when convenient."