Thousands of pages of U.S. intelligence documents made public on Wednesday show that the American government continued to monitor Nelson Mandela as a potential Communist menace even after he was released from prison, a group that sued to obtain the papers said.
The Washington-based group Property of the People released the papers to mark the 100th anniversary of Mandela’s birth. It said it obtained them after years of litigation.
“The documents reveal that, just as it did in the 1950s and 60s with Martin Luther King Jr and the civil rights movement, the FBI aggressively investigated the U.S. and South African anti-apartheid movements as Communist plots imperiling American security,” the group’s president Ryan Shapiro said in a statement.
“Worse still, the documents demonstrate the FBI continued its wrong-headed Communist menace investigations of Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement even after U.S. imposition of trade sanctions against apartheid South Africa, after Mandela’s globally-celebrated release from prison, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
South Africa’s first black president, who died in 2013 and remains a global icon for his struggle against apartheid and message of reconciliation after 27 years in prison, was regarded with suspicion by Washington during the Cold War and remained on the U.S. terrorism watchlist until 2008.
Property of the People said its trove included documents from the major U.S. intelligence agencies, the FBI, CIA, DIA and NSA, most of which have never been seen by the public.
“The Mandela Files” can be found on its website propertyofthepeople.org.