LOS ANGELES - Twenty-five years after John Lennon's murder, the FBI has declared it will appeal a recent federal court decision ordering the release of the last ten pages of the Lennon FBI file.
This fall the FBI said it would not release files about Lennon, who was shot Dec. 8, 1980, and that, according to the FBI, contained information about the Beatle provided by a foreign government under a promise of confidentiality.
"At a time when we are confronted by life and death issues of terrorism and national security, the FBI is asserting that it cannot release 30-year-old files relating to the Nixon administration's harassment of a rock icon," said Mark Rosenbaum, ACLU of Southern California legal director. "This administration is trivializing national security in the name of political expediency."
The Lennon FBI file was created in 1971 and 1972, when the Nixon administration attempted to deport Lennon. At the time Lennon was an outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam.
The long-standing Freedom of Information lawsuit was originally filed in 1983 by Jon Wiener, a history professor at the University of California-Irvine, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. The case, which went to the Supreme Court in 1992, was settled by the Clinton administration in 1997, except for ten pages. In September, 2004, U.S. District Court Judge Robert K. Takasugi ordered the FBI to release the last ten pages.
As for the contents of the withheld pages, Wiener said, "We aren't even allowed to know the name of the country that provided the pages in question, but a former employee of Britain's MI-5 intelligence agency named David Shayler has said he saw a Lennon file at MI-5. He said it contained reports on Lennon's contacts with the British New Left and anti-war organizations."
Shayler was convicted of violating Britain's Official Secrets Act and jailed for six months.
The pages the FBI has released have been published in the book Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files by Jon Wiener (University of California Press). Key pages - and more information -- are available online at www.LennonFBIfiles.com.