By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The FBI have been ordered by a Los Angeles judge to release documents relating to claims that the murdered former Beatle John Lennon made substantial cash donations to the IRA and other left wing groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The FBI holds ten classified files in its Washington headquarters about Lennon and it is believed they will claim he gave money to the IRA before it split into the Provisional and Official movements.
Much of the information is believed to have been supplied to the FBI by Britain’s internal intelligence agency MI5.
Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, denied the claims. "My husband did not give money to the IRA," she said in a radio interview in Spain, where she is exhibiting some of her art.
Author and historian Jon Weiner filed a legal request for the documents in 1983 and in the long-running court battle, the U.S. government had cited national security concerns in arguing the FBI files should remain classified.
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A former MI5 agent, David Shayler, told the Observer newspaper he was shown the files by a colleague in 1993 that dealt with the IRA payments and donations to number of left-wing groups.
They are said to show that Lennon paid £46,000 to left-wing groups including the Trotskyist Workers’ Revolutionary party and Red Mole, a Marxist magazine edited by the student protest leader Tariq Ali.
After they got the MI5 intelligence files, the FBI is said to have stepped up its surveillance of the singer.
Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, were followed to Irish bars in New York that were fundraising for the IRA and it is claimed FBI agents even transcribed the lyrics of songs he performed at demonstrations.
Lennon, who was shot by an obsessed fan outside his apartment in New York in 1980, was a strong supporter of the Northern Ireland civil rights movement during the 1970s.