CIA archives reveal secret tests on Uri Geller’s psychic powers

Uri Geller, who made claims about his abilities with spoons, was the subject of experiments DAVID FURST/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Uri Geller, who made claims about his abilities with spoons, was the subject of experiments

The Israeli psychic Uri Geller, who claimed to be able to bend spoons with his mind, really did have special powers, according to the results of secret tests released yesterday.

The experiments to test Geller’s telekinetic abilities are revealed in a trove of 800,000 files — a total of 13 million pages — of declassified documents released online yesterday after a long campaign by freedom-of-information activists and a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency.

Among the papers are those from the Stargate Project, a scientific research programme that has long been of interest to conspiracy theorists.

Michael Best, a journalist, described it as “a 25-year intelligence community effort to use clairvoyance, precognition, or telepathy to acquire and describe information about targets that were blocked from ordinary perception”.

In 1972 Geller was brought to the Stanford Research Institute and placed in a sealed room. In one of the experiments a researcher selected a word at random, and a picture inspired by it was drawn by someone outside Geller’s room. The psychic was then challenged to match it. Sometimes his efforts were hopelessly off but others proved eerily accurate.

In one instance the word chosen was “bunch”; Geller began to talk about “purple circles” — and the first picture drawn was of a bunch of grapes.

The CIA documents include discussions about assassinating Fidel Castro, details of Nazi war crimes, reports of UFO sightings and the papers of Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state. The papers have previously been accessible to the public, but only to those able to use one of four computers at the back of a library at the National Archives in Maryland, from 9am to 4.30pm on weekdays.

Progress towards greater openness has been slow. In 1995 Bill Clinton ordered the CIA to declassify documents that were more than 25 years old and of “historical value”, but the agency failed to make its archive searchable until 2000. When the non-profit organisation Muck Rack filed a freedom-of-information case in 2014, the CIA said it would take six years to make the data available, and that it would be delivered on 1,200 CDs costing $108,000.

Now they are available to anyone with internet access and the patience and curiosity to explore them.

Geller fought as a paratrooper in the Six Day War in 1967, killing a man in combat. A 2013 documentary, The Secret Life of Uri Geller, provided extensive evidence that he had worked as a secret agent for Mossad and the CIA. It included interviews with scientists and former US military and intelligence officers who had first-hand knowledge of his activities.

Vikram Jayanti, who directed the film, acknowledged his subject’s divisive reputation at the time. “A lot of people think he is a fraud, a trickster . . . but he has a huge following and a history of doing things that nobody can explain.”

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