For Immediate Release

CONTACTS: Cynthia Determan
(202) 879-9309

Kat Stein
SCI FI Channel
(212) 413-5890


Supports New FOIA Effort on UFO Records and
Release of Report on Failure to Conduct Scientific Research

Washington, D.C., October 22, 2002 -- Announcing its support for a new public effort to gain release of secret government records on unidentified aerial phenomena, commonly referred to as UFOs, SCI FI Channel today joined with John Podesta, President Clinton's former chief of staff, to call for more declassification of government records.

As part of its advocacy effort, SCI FI is backing a Freedom of Information Act initiative to obtain government records on cases involving retrieval of objects of unknown origin by the secret Air Force operations Project Moon Dust and Operation Blue Fly. Assisting SCI FI in its FOIA effort is the Washington, D.C. law firm of Lobel, Novins and Lamont.

Acknowledging the controversy that has swirled around the UFO issue for over 50 years, Podesta said, "It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the real nature of this phenomenon."

Explaining SCI FI Channel's involvement, Bonnie Hammer, the network's president said, "For the past decade, SCI FI programming has explored the often-blurred line that separates science fiction from science fact. But when credible scientists conclude that 5% to 10% of UFOs cannot be explained by natural or artificial causes, we think it is worth taking a much closer look at what is clearly a real and ubiquitous phenomenon."

To bolster its point, SCI FI commissioned a report by independent journalist Leslie Kean to document the government's failure to carry out systematic scientific research into the UFO phenomenon. Kean, whose articles have appeared in major US newspapers, said, "the fact is that scientists who have spent time studying, classifying, and analyzing these phenomena agree that they are real and that it will require a sustained research effort to determine their cause."

"The public has a right to know what is being observed in our airspace, once it has been determined it is not a foreign or domestic aircraft," said Kean.

In view of a recent Roper Poll commissioned by SCI FI Channel showing that 56% of Americans believe that UFOs are real and that 72% of the public believe that the government isn't telling everything it knows about UFO activity, SCI FI also announced the formation of the Coalition for Freedom of Information (CFI). Ed Rothschild, CFI's director, said, "We have constructed a new website to generate public support for greater disclosure of government records and for more scientific investigation. We are providing the public with an opportunity to get directly involved in this issue. The site contains some of the best information available on this issue as well as letters that citizens can send to their senators and representatives."

Finally, Hammer announced that on November 8, SCI FI will sponsor a symposium exploring the potential for interstellar travel and the evidence of unidentified aerial phenomena at George Washington University. Panelists will include eminent American scientists and aviation experts.