Best known as a spoon-bender who befriended singer Michael Jackson — and branded a charlatan by critics — it now appears that Uri Geller may have had a second career as a CIA spy.
According to a new BBC documentary, he used his psychic powers in an attempt to wipe secret Soviet computer records.
It is alleged he also tried to disable military radar and influence the mind of a Russian negotiator during Cold War arms talks in Geneva by beaming peace messages at his head.
Psychic spy? Israeli-born Uri Geller became world famous with his spoon bending act
The Israeli-born showman’s life has been littered with outrageous claims. Over the years, his tricks have baffled scientists and enraged his rivals.
Now, the BBC film, to be broadcast later this year, claims Geller was recruited to help Western intelligence services as they battled to stay ahead of their Communist enemies in the Seventies and Eighties.
In The Secret Life Of Uri Geller — Psychic Spy?, film-maker Vikram Jayanti spoke to a host of scientists, intelligence agents and Washington and Pentagon insiders. Several confirmed that the U.S. authorities used — and still may be using — 66-year-old Geller in what surely must be some of the most outrageous schemes ever dreamt up.
‘I tried to execute missions that were positive. I said “No” to dark things,’ says Geller of his alleged second career as a spy.
So what did he do? And how did the man who many believe can’t even bend a fork without hiding a magnet in his hand come to captivate America’s spy chiefs?
Accusations: Uri Geller, pictured in 2008, used his psychic powers in an attempt to wipe secret Soviet computer records, a BBC documentary claims
It all started in Israel, where Geller was raised. As a young man with a popular nightclub mind-reading act, he came to the attention of the secret service, Mossad, as they sought to outwit their Arab neighbours.
At the same time, his potential was spotted in America, and it was U.S. scientists who researched his paranormal skills.
The Stanford Research Institute in California, often a front for secret CIA research, had been commissioned during the early Seventies by the U.S. government to look into whether psychic powers could be harnessed by the military — Washington believed the Kremlin was already investigating the same area.
The research with Uri went into a high gear after a phone conversation with his secret CIA contact 3,000 miles away, in which Uri correctly described a detailed anatomical illustration the agent was looking at on his desk.
With his seemingly incredible skills in telepathy, Geller became the poster boy for the paranormal. He spent months wired up in lab tests and — according to the documentary — the results convinced scientists that he really did have special skills.
For example, he was allegedly able to guess letters of the alphabet that other people were thinking about. But before the Americans could decide what to do with him, he was pressed into service by Israel.
So far, he had done only mundane work such as helping Israeli defence minister Moshe Dayan find hidden archaeological artefacts buried in his garden.
But then, having proved himself, he was later recruited to do clandestine work for Mossad.
According to his biographer Jonathan Margolis, in 1976 an Israeli agent told Geller a set of numbers and a certain time the next day when he had to concentrate on the numbers and think ‘Break, break, break’.
Unknown to Geller, he was being asked to play a key role in an audacious and secret operation by Israeli commandos to rescue 102 hostages who had been seized on a plane by Palestinian terrorists and who were at Entebbe airport in Uganda.
The crisis began when an Air France flight flying from Israel to Paris with 250 people on board was hijacked. The raid by 200 elite, Israel-led troops was a success.
Geller’s role? The numbers he had been given, he said later, related to a radar station the commandos needed to put out of action to take the terrorists by surprise.
In control: The BBC documentary also claims Uri Geller tried to influence the mind of a Russian negotiator during Cold War arms talks in Geneva by beaming peace messages at his head
Margolis says weapons scientist Eldon Byrd claimed Mossad also secretly put Geller on passenger planes flying over Syria. They wanted him to locate a suspected nuclear power plant by using his ‘psychic impressions’. Sure enough, says Byrd, he located it and Mossad duly bombed it not long after.
By now the Americans wanted Uri Geller back to work for them.
It was a CIA agent in Mexico City, known simply as Mike, who had spotted Geller’s potential, especially in Mexico which at the time was heaving with KGB agents and where Geller had become a huge star.
Mike also knew the incoming President, Jimmy Carter, was interested in the paranormal. Here was an ideal opportunity for the CIA.
‘I was used to erase floppy disks on Aeroflot flights when KGB agents were flying with diplomatic pouches to the West,’ claims Geller. ‘I would sit there and concentrate on these pouches.
‘I must have been successful, I guess, because the CIA guys kept asking me for more and more.’ Margolis says the CIA also took Geller to the desert to see if he could move a model spy plane with the power of his mind.
Uri said: ‘I managed to do that, too. I just loved it . . . it was so James Bondy.’
Unlike 007, however, agent Uri was not willing to kill, he says.
Thus he refused a CIA request to use his psychic powers to stop a pig’s heart. Geller says it was clear that the heart they ultimately had in mind belonged to Yuri Andropov, then the head of the KGB.
According to Margolis, the CIA even asked Geller to beam a psychic message into President Carter’s brain to persuade him to provide funding for a new CIA paranormal programme.
Mind boggled: Spoon-bending Uri is believed to have first come to the attention of the CIA while working for the Israeli military
Too ridiculous for words? Maybe. But this was when Cold War tensions were at their height and an anxious White House, and its intelligence services, were ready to fund techniques of fighting Russia that — in retrospect — seem more than faintly crack-headed.
Certainly, it is beyond dispute that Geller was a White House guest at Carter’s 1977 inauguration. The New York Times has also reported that, shortly after coming into office, Carter ordered a high-level report into the Soviets’ involvement in psychic research.
A decade later, according to the new film, Geller was still considered an asset, with America’s top nuclear arms treaty negotiator, Ambassador Max Kampelman, flying him to Geneva for arms reduction talks. At a dinner the night before, Geller beamed ‘positive thoughts’ into the mind of the top Soviet negotiator.
The following day, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev announced a plan to rid Europe of medium-range nuclear missiles. The power of positive thinking — or coincidence?
After 23 years, and an estimated $20 million, spent looking into the potential of psychic spies, President Bill Clinton officially dismantled the paranormal research project in 1995 and declassified much of the paperwork two years later.
But BBC film-maker Vikram Jayanti says there are people who are convinced the CIA continued its covert, psychic work.
He says: ‘A former U.S. Senate aide active in foreign intelligence told me that rather than being shut down, America’s use of psychic spies merely went what he called “deeper black” — or further into the shadows.’
Geller, who continued his parallel showbiz career and was Michael Jackson’s best man, lives in a mansion in Berkshire. He has a 1976 Cadillac adorned with thousands of pieces of bent cutlery. He has always proved adept at financially exploiting his powers.
His dousing skills were admired by by Sir Val Duncan, boss of the British mining company Rio Tinto Zinc and the president of Mexico, Jose Lopez Portillo, invited him to to work his wonders on the struggling country’s oil industry.
As with the Syrian nuclear plant, Geller was flown over the Gulf of Mexico in a helicopter, pointing out places below where he thought they should drill for oil. His reward was to be made honorary citizen and given a gold and silver-plated handgun by Portillo.
Perhaps realising it’s the best way to tantalise the public, he refuses to elaborate on his secret government roles or whether, as he says, he was ‘re-activated’ after 9/11.
Asked about the BBC film’s claims, he remains coy. All he will say is: ‘I tried to execute missions that were positive.’
Jayanti’s film suggests Geller may have been one of nearly 50 psychics used by Western powers to try to locate the fugitive Osama Bin Laden. None of this will surprise military experts. For U.S. spy chiefs have been known to try anything to outfox their enemies.
Intelligence officers have even trained men to kill goats just by staring at them. This was part of a psychic tool known as ‘remote viewing’ in which people were meant to be taught to see things thousands of miles away.
Perhaps the last word should go to Jayanti, who has spoken to many senior CIA operatives. He says: ‘A lot of people think Uri Geller is a fraud, a lot of people think he is a trickster but at the same time he has a history of doing things that nobody can explain.’