US May Fight To Keep
Letters About Lennon
Secret - Why??
From Carol S. Kopf <>
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Almost 20 years after the assassination of John Lennon, a government lawyer warned Friday that releasing documents about the former Beatle's left-wing political activities could damage national security.
An attorney for the government said he would probably appeal the ruling of a federal judge Friday ordering that three letters about Lennon from an unidentified foreign government -- believed to be Britain -- be turned over to a college professor.
Jon Wiener, a history professor at the University of California, Irvine, wants to use the letters as part of his legal battle to obtain 10 classified documents remaining in Lennon's FBI file. The singer was murdered Dec. 8, 1980, by a deranged fan as he returned to his apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
The ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Robbins was a small victory for Wiener, who has been battling the FBI over Lennon's file since 1983 in a case that has gone all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The University of California Press last year published Wiener's book "Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files."
In 1997, as part of a settlement with the historian, the FBI released all its Lennon files except for the 10 documents that are the subject of the current litigation. The FBI says a foreign government, which it will not name, has asked that those documents remain secret.
Wiener, relying on information from a former MI5 officer named David Shayler, believes that that the documents refer to the murdered Beatle's financial support of left-wing groups in the 1960s.
Robbins ordered the government to release "redacted," or censored, versions of the three letters, which amount to the unnamed foreign government's explanation of its position on the still-secret documents.
But Justice Department Attorney Thomas Caballero told Wiener's attorney after the hearing that the U.S. government was likely to appeal Robbins' ruling because it still believes the release of the 10 documents in Lennon's file could jeopardize national security.
"This is not 'national security information,"' Wiener scoffed. "It consists of 30-year-old reports on the political activities of a dead rock star."


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