Ryan vs. United States

In July 1980, after an unsuccessful petition for financial compensation from the State Department over its alleged negligence in warning Rep. Leo J. Ryan of the dangers in Jonestown, the children of the slain congressman filed suit against the United States – and more particularly the State Department and CIA – for more than $3 million in damages.

The suit claims that the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown had knowledge of drugs, guns, and violence in Jonestown that would have deterred Ryan from going to Jonestown had he received such information. It also claims the CIA’s interests in Guyana – both in supporting the government of Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, and in using Jonestown “as a massive mind control experiment as part of the … MK ULTRA program” – superseded any interest it had in protecting Ryan. As a result, the suit concludes, the two government agencies “knowingly, intentionally and maliciously led [Ryan] into a trap at the Port Kaituma Air Strip, which cost decedent his life.”

The suit was eventually dropped. There is no published record of its disposition.

This lawsuit was reproduced as Appendix S of the study, The Cult Awareness Network: Anatomy of a Hate Group, by Thomas Whittle. This copy of the suit does not include the exhibits mentioned in paragraphs II and III below.