FBI releases John Lennon files

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116724789610180.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.i78.photobucket.com’, ‘John Lennon’);

After a snail’s-pace legal battle that lasted 25 years, the FBI announced Thursday, Dec. 21, that it has released the last 10 pages of documents pertaining to the government’s early 1970’s surveillance of John Lennon. The documents, according to the Associated Press, contain reports that British leftists were to receive financing from Lennon to start a left-wing bookshop and reading room in London, but government officials lacked evidence supporting the claim against him.

Lennon author Jon Weiner first requested to see the complete set of FBI documents on the former Beatle in 1981. In 1983, he sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act. The case was settled in 1997, when the FBI turned over 250 pages of documents. The remaining 10, according to the Bureau, were held because they contained sensitive information that, if released, could have spawned “foreign, diplomatic, economic and military retaliation” against the U.S. A federal judge disagreed, and turned them over to Weiner last week, declassifying them.

After Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, moved to the U.S. in 1971, the two found themselves under constant surveillance and in the middle of a deportation case. Officials claimed that a 1968 possession of marijuana conviction and an expired work visa were the grounds to send the couple back to England. In his 1984 book, Come Together: John Lennon In His Time, Weiner presented alleged proof the government had politically motivated reasons for ordering Lennon out of the country.

In early 1972, claims Weiner, it was Lennon and Ono’s outspoken criticisms of the war in Vietnam and President Richard Nixon that actually sparked the deportation proceedings. Lennon was also said to have been affiliated with radical subculture spokesmen. The case was ruled in Lennon’s favor in 1976, when he was awarded a green card and the right to remain in the United States.

Dec. 8, 1980, John Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman outside the Dakota apartment building in New York City, where he lived at the time. He died in Ono’s arms.

According to police and prosecutors, Chapman killed Lennon to gain media attention. However, it has been speculated that Chapman was a paid assassin, as part of a conspiracy to quiet the singer, who frequently spoke out politically through his music.

Lennon’s death came just weeks after his 1980 release, Double Fantasy, which contained Top-10 singles “Woman,” “Watching the Wheels” and the No. 1 hit “(Just Like) Starting Over.” At the time of his death, Lennon was in the middle of recording Milk & Honey. Released by Ono in 1984, the album featured the Top 5 hit, “Nobody Told Me.”

From the Dec. 27 2006-Jan. 2, 2007, issue

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