Former president Mandela, who died last month aged 95, was detained in 1962, convicted in the Rivonia Trial and incarcerated for decades under apartheid rulers.
Ryan Shapiro, a PhD student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, filed the legal action at a federal court in Washington after the CIA failed to comply with Freedom of Information requests he submitted to the agency regarding Mandela's arrest.
"Although US intelligence has long been known to have been involved in the arrest of Mandela, little detailed information is available," Shapiro's lawsuit states, seeking details on the CIA's alleged view of Mandela as a threat.
Shapiro contends that the CIA has refused to release the requested papers.
Dean Boyd, a spokesperson for the CIA, said: "The CIA generally refrains from commenting on court cases pending before the courts." – Sapa-AFP