WASHINGTON (CN) – The CIA refuses to hand over its records on notorious East German Stasi head Erich Mielke, a German filmmaker claims in court.
LOOKS Filmproduktionen sued the CIA in Federal Court under the Freedom of Information Act, asking a judge to force the spy agency to give up its records on Mielke.
“Erich Mielke … was the head of the Stasi from 1957 until he was removed in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” the complaint states. “This position made him one of the most powerful intelligence figures in the Communist Bloc, and one of the most powerful figures, period, in East Germany.”
LOOKS says it started producing a 90-minute documentary film on Mielke – who died in 2000 – and has been collecting records on him created by Stasi and other intelligence agencies.
The filmmaker says it submitted a request for records to the CIA in 2012, but the CIA denied it, citing the classified intelligences sources and methods exemption of FOIA.
The CIA also denied subsequent requests, stating that the agency “can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive” to LOOKS’ requests.
The complaint states: “At multiple points during this process, CIA has made it clear that its primary objection is that LOOKS is requesting ‘all records in CIA’s possession’ about Mielke. CIA indicated to OGIS [the Office of Government Information Services] that it was willing to process requests for ‘finished intelligence records’ or requests ‘focused around a specific historical event.'”
LOOKS says its subsequent requests were treated as one broad request, allowing the agency to deny it.
It seeks an injunction ordering the CIA to release immediately all of its records of Mielke in electronic form.
Mielke headed the Stasi – the Ministry for State Security of the German Democratic Republic – from 1957 to 1989, when he was removed from power and convicted for murders he had committed in 1931.
The complaint was filed on the heels of the German government ordering the CIA’s top officer in Berlin to leave the country over allegations of U.S. espionage.
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