A former CIA case officer who is black contends in a lawsuit against the agency that his supervisors discriminated against him.
Jeffrey Sterling contends that white agency officials blocked key assignments that would have allowed him to advance in the CIA.
Sterling, who was trained in 1997 to recruit Iranians as spies, said he was fired in October after refusing an assignment.
The CIA denies that race was a factor in his dismissal.
Sterling said he was told that as a "big black man speaking Farsi," he would draw too much attention to the agency's Iranian agents.