Court upholds professor's bid to see FBI's files on Lennon

September 01, 1992|By Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES -- A history professor at the University of California, Irvine, inched ahead in his decade-long quest to obtain secret FBI files on former Beatle John Lennon in a federal court in Los Angeles yesterday.

U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi set a Sept. 11 deadline for the FBI to provide detailed reasons for denying access to the files on Lennon and his activities in the early 1970s.

The FBI has said that releasing the files poses a threat to national security, a statement disputed by Professor Jon Wiener and his attorneys.

"The government is continuing to hold on to these documents like the blueprints of the Patriot missile," said Mark Rosenbaum, one of Mr. Wiener's attorneys.

Mr. Wiener, who has taught U.S. history at University of California, Irvine, since 1974, initially requested the FBI dossier on Lennon in 1981 during research for his book "Come Together: John Lennon in His Time," a political biography that examines the late rock star's merging of politics and music.

Mr. Wiener filed suit in 1983, after the FBI released only 69 pages, or about one-third of its files, and refused to yield the rest. Five years later, the judge ruled in favor of the FBI.

In 1989, attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California took Mr. Wiener's case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which reversed the lower court's ruling and ordered the FBI to provide more specific reasons for withholding the files.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the FBI's challenge to the appeals court ruling.

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