A new BBC documentary claims that Israel-born magician and celebrity psychic Uri Geller was a secret agent for the CIA, and possibly the Mossad.

Geller, who was born in Tel Aviv, made a career from TV appearances worldwide where he has performed tricks such as bending spoons, making clocks stop, and describing hidden drawings. He’s also known for his friendship with the late Michael Jackson, who was best man when Geller renewed his wedding vows in 2000.

The film “The Secret Life Of Uri Geller – Psychic Spy?” by Vikram Jayanti premiered at the Sheffield DocFest in the UK earlier this week, and infers that Geller has used his psychic powers for a host of serious activities, including trying to disable a radar system during the raid on Entebbe, Israel’s rescue mission of over 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers from an Air France plane hijacked by the PLO to Uganda in 1976.

The film, to be broadcast later this year, also claims that Geller was involved in the search for Osama bin Laden after 9/11, and suggests that the US recruited Geller during a “psychic arms race” with the Soviet Union, which was apparently boasting about the abilities of its own “psychic warriors.”

“When Jimmy Carter was elected President, one of the first things he did was to have Uri Geller give him a four-hour briefing on the Soviet psychic threat. America didn’t want a psychic gap and Uri was the go-to guy about these things,” filmmaker Jayanti wrote in a blog post on the Guardian. “Sometimes, you wonder whether Uri’s entire public career has actually been a front for his shadow world activities.”

In the post, Jayanti said his documentary research took him to a “strange alternative reality, populated with men (always men) from the CIA, the FBI, Nasa, Britain’s Ministry of Defence, and yes, the NSA that everyone’s talking about this week. (I’ll say nothing of Mossad, though Israel’s legendary intelligence agency kept cropping up.)”

Geller cooperated with the filmmakers, and attended the premiere. But he was apparently somewhat conflicted about the result: “I didn’t realize that Vikram was going to do such a thorough job of tying all the loose ends… making that the little hints I dropped throughout my career were real,” Geller told The Independent.

Geller was also quoted by The Independent saying he was once asked to stop a pig’s heart using telepathy but declined, fearing that, if successful, he would then be asked to stop a human heart. “I tried to execute missions that were positive,” Geller said, without explicitly confirming espionage work. “I said ‘no’ to dark things.”

The film suggests that the CIA first became interested in Geller before the Carter era, when he was in the IDF. Apparently, the agency had been on the lookout for a world-class psychic.

The US ran a 20-year program training psychic operatives, as depicted in the book and the 2009 movie “The Men Who Stare At Goats,” and Geller was the muse, according to Jayanti.

“It turns out that the inspiration for this multimillion-dollar experiment was research conducted at the beginning of the ’70s at California’s Stanford Research Institute, frequently a front for CIA-funded experimental programs. And at the heart of their research was a young Israeli soldier, called Uri Geller. The hunt was on, to militarize the paranormal,” wrote Jayanti.

Although Geller was evasive about any work for the Mossad, he did share an anecdote, reported in The Independent, about the late Moshe Dayan.

“He (Dayan) was an avid collector of archaeological items, very ancient ones, four, five six thousand years old. They’re all around Israel,” Geller recalled. “When he met me and saw my powers, the first question he asked me, after the serious questions of military use and all that…was ‘Uri, do you think you can find for me some archaeological artifacts with your powers?’ I said, ‘You know, Moshe, I’ve never done it but let’s try!’”

“I found quite a few things for him,” Geller continued. “He loved it. He used to collect them in his garden.”

“Uri has a controversial reputation,” Jayanti told The Independent. “A lot of people think he is a fraud, a lot of people think he is a trickster and makes things up, but at the same time he has a huge following and a history of doing things that nobody can explain.”