LOS ANGELES (December 20, 2006) — The FBI has released its final surveillance documents on John Lennon to a university historian who has waged a 25-year legal battle to obtain the secret files.
The 10 pages contain new details about Lennon’s ties to leftist and anti-war groups in London in the early 1970s, but nothing indicating government officials considered the former Beatle a serious threat, historian Jon Wiener told the Los Angeles Times in Wednesday’s editions.
The FBI had unsuccessfully argued that an unnamed foreign government secretly provided the information, and releasing the documents could lead to diplomatic, political or economic retaliation against the United States.
The newly released documents include a surveillance report stating that two prominent British leftists had courted Lennon in hopes that he would finance “a left-wing bookshop and reading room in London” but that Lennon gave them no money. Another page states that there was “no certain proof” that Lennon had provided money “for subversive purposes.”
“I doubt that Tony Blair’s government will launch a military strike on the U.S. in retaliation for the release of these documents,” Wiener told the newspaper. “Today, we can see that the national security claims that the FBI has been making for 25 years were absurd from the beginning.”
Wiener first requested the documents in 1981, several months after he decided to write a book about Lennon following the singer’s murder. He initially obtained some documents, but the FBI withheld numerous files, saying they contained national security information and were exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
Wiener sued the government and received a number of files in 1997 as part of a settlement with the FBI. Justice Department lawyers continued to withhold the final 10 pages until a federal judge in 2004 ordered their release.
The previously released files showed that the FBI closely monitored Lennon from 1971 to 1972.