CIA releases film on two officers held in China

The film is on two CIA officers held in China on a secret mission in 1952.

Updated: Jun 02, 2011, 20:53 PM IST

Washington: A documentary produced by the CIA and never aired outside the agency`s headquarters is coming to the Internet. The agency says it will release the film, about two CIA officers captured in China on a secret mission in 1952 and held for years, to the public.

The Associated Press has obtained a copy of the film under the Freedom of Information Act.

Titled "Extraordinary Fidelity," the hourlong film blends documentary footage and re-enactments to tell the story of the officers shot down trying to recover a spy working for the CIA in the Manchuria region of northeastern China.

The two pilots of the plane died, but the CIA officers - Richard G. Fecteau and John T. Downey - were eventually freed in 1971 and 1973, respectively.

The film, the only one of its kind in the spy agency`s history, was intended only for internal release. But the CIA released it nearly one year after the AP filed a FOIA request for a copy.

Now, the CIA says it plans to upload the video to its YouTube channel on the web.

A big theme of the film is the behind-the-scenes efforts by CIA officials in Washington, throughout the men`s imprisonment, to keep their financial affairs in order and provide assistance to their families.

It features re-enactments of important scenes, including the ambush and the men`s harsh interrogations at the hands of the Chinese. Some portions were filmed at a former insane asylum in Petersburg, Va.; Fecteau and Downey themselves talk at length about their imprisonment.

The film was produced by the CIA`s Center for the Study of Intelligence and first shown almost a year ago at CIA headquarters.

The CIA plans to show the movie to the public Thursday night at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

Paul Wimmer directed the film. He previously produced and directed a 2002 Discovery Channel documentary on the Sept. 11 attacks, "Pentagon Under Fire."

And he served as a consulting producer for a 2009 National Geographic Channel documentary, "Great Escape: The Final Secrets," about American prisoners during World War II.

As part of the FOIA request, the AP also asked for information about the film`s cost and how much Wimmer was paid. To ease processing, the CIA said it had turned this portion of the FOIA filing into a separate request. The agency said it is continuing to process this request.

Bureau Report