CIA Blocking Release of COVID Information Lawsuit Alleges. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is accused of refusing to hand over information relating to COVID-19, according to a new lawsuit.
The conservative Heritage Foundation filed a lawsuit against the CIA last week detailing that the agency failed to produce documents that were requested through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request earlier this year.
“This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, to compel production of CIA records relating to allegations that members of the CIA’s COVID Discovery Team, a group of employees tasked with analyzing the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, received monetary incentives to change their position on the origins of the virus,” the lawsuit, reviewed by Newsweek, says.
“As of the date of this Complaint, CIA has failed to: (i) produce the requested records or demonstrate that the records are lawfully exempt from disclosure; (ii) notify Plaintiffs of the scope of any responsive records it intends to produce or withhold and the reasons for any withholdings; or (iii) inform Plaintiffs that they may appeal any adequately specific, adverse determination,” the lawsuit adds.
The lawsuit comes amid ongoing speculation surrounding a COVID-19 lab leak theory, following a report from the Wall Street Journal detailing that the Department of Energy determined with a “low confidence” rating that the novel virus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China.
In the lawsuit, the Heritage Foundation states that they filed a FOIA request for information relating to the CIA’s COVID-19 Discovery team, such as its creation, records among members, communications between members and documents “regarding the pay history, to include the awarding of any type of financial or performance-based incentive/financial bonus to members of all iterations of the COVID Discovery Team(s).”
According to the lawsuit, the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project filed its FOIA request for this information on September 20, 2023..
“Under FOIA, CIA has twenty (20) business days to produce responsive documents or issue a determination communicating the scope of the documents it intends to produce and/or withhold, the reasons for any withholding, and notifying the requester that it may appeal any adverse determination,” the lawsuit says. “Twenty business days from October 25, 2023 is November 20, 2023.”
In addition to the report from the Wall Street Journal, in September, a CIA whistleblower testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and alleged that members of the intelligence agency were offered incentives to alter their position on the COVID-19 lab leak theory.
At the time, Tammy Kupperman Thorp, a spokesperson for the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs told Newsweek, “At CIA we are committed to the highest standards of analytic rigor, integrity, and objectivity. We do not pay analysts to reach specific conclusions. We take these allegations extremely seriously and are looking into them. We will keep our Congressional oversight committees appropriately informed.”
CIA Blocking Release of COVID Information Lawsuit Alleges