CIA Sued After Refusing to Release COVID-19 Records

The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, a conservative organization, is suing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for refusing to share records relating to COVID-19.

The agency failed to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

“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 suit says, as obtained by The Daily Caller.

The Oversight Project sought CIA records for COVID-19 after learning that the agency offered payment to analysts if they changed their findings about the virus’ origins.

In a September letter to CIA Director William Burns, Ohio Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R) and Mike Turner (R) addressed the whistleblower’s testimony that analysts were bribed to alter their conclusions.

“A multi-decade, senior-level, current Agency officer has come forward to provide information to the Committees regarding the Agency’s analysis into the origins of COVID-19. According to the whistleblower, the Agency assigned seven officers to a COVID Discovery Team (Team). The Team consisted of multi-disciplinary and experienced officers with significant scientific expertise,” the congressmen here. “According to the whistleblower, at the end of its review, six of the seven members of the Team believed the intelligence and science were sufficient to make a low confidence assessment that COVID-19 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. The seventh member of the Team, who also happened to be the most senior, was the lone officer to believe COVID-19 originated through zoonosis. The whistleblower further contends that to come to the eventual public determination of uncertainty, the other six members were given a significant monetary incentive to change their position.”

The Oversight Project’s chief counsel Kyle Brosnan explained the lawsuit to the New York Post, saying the “Biden Administration has refused to be transparent with Congress and the American people over the origins of COVID-19.”

The CIA whistleblower made “serious allegations that the agency bought off employees of the agency to further obstruct efforts to get to the truth of the virus’s origins. This obstruction cannot stand and we’re fighting in federal court to get to the bottom of this,” Brosnan said.

In 2022, Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee released an “unclassified” summary of their report on the origins of COVID-19, accusing the U.S. Intelligence Community of withholding important information and calling for an investigation into U.S. funding of Chinese researchers.

According to the report, the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) omitted evidence of a potential link between SARS-CoV-2 and China’s bioweapons program from both its classified and declassified reports on the virus’ origin. The IC has “withheld relevant information from its oversight committee, the American public, and the world,” the report states.

The writers of the report urged the IC to be more transparent with the requested documents and to declassify the relevant information without revealing sources and methods.