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Group sues CIA over data release

May 13, WASHINGTON (AP) -- A private group alleged Thursday the CIA has broken long-standing promises to release histories of the 1953 coup in Iran, intervention by the agency in the 1948 Italian elections and nine former communist leaders of Eastern Europe.

Suing the CIA in federal court, the nonprofit National Security Archive accused the agency of ``withholding the histories of the Iranian coup in large part because they include references to activities by British intelligence cooperation with the CIA.''

In 1953, after the Iranian government nationalized the British-owned oil industry, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq was ousted in a clandestine CIA-backed coup to re-install the shah as a pro-American bulwark against communist expansion in the Middle East.

The suit says that the agency is putting off indefinitely a declassification project that includes materials on ``CIA intervention in the 1948 elections in Italy.''

The lawsuit also stated that the CIA has refused to even acknowledge the existence of biographies of nine former East European leaders, seven of them now dead.

The agency's position runs counter to nearly a decade of pledges to declassify large portions of CIA historical archives, the private group said.

The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton appointee.

``No other nation's foreign intelligence agency has voluntarily released as much information about its past as has the CIA,'' said agency spokesman Mark Mansfield.

Mansfield said that ``we will build upon that record in the years ahead, within the limits imposed upon the director of central intelligence by law not to jeopardize intelligence sources and methods, impinge on our liaison relationship with other countries or interfere with our ability to carry out the agency's mission.''

Mansfield said the agency has released about 1,800 pages on covert action in Guatamala and more than 3,000 pages on the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

He said the agency in the past five years has declassified over 500 national intelligence estimates, more than 11,000 pages of finished intelligence on the foreign Soviet Union and 227,000 pages of records on the assassination of President Kennedy.


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