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EXCLUSIVE: Yoko Ono on John Lennon and the FBI

JONATHAN KARL / ABC | September 6 2006

John Lennon's perceived "threat" to the U.S. government is the highlight of a new film that documents his transformation from pop idol to political activist and offers a fresh look at this former Beatle's career.

"The U.S. vs. John Lennon" will be released later this month. Yoko Ono cooperated with the filmmakers, opening her archives of rarely seen footage of the couple's fight for peace.

"One thing that brought us together was the fact that both of us were rebels in so many ways," she said.

And that's something he didn't always share with his bandmates, who were reluctant to join Lennon as he spoke out against the Vietnam War, said Ono.

"He is the only one who really wanted to do something about it when he was a Beatle," Ono explained.


Star Watched by the FBI


Lennon's rebelliousness may have come at a price. In the 1970s, Lennon was convinced that government agents were watching him. As it turns out, he was right.

Almost 20 years after his death, the government released the FBI file on Lennon, which included nearly 300 pages of text. One document that went from the FBI to the CIA reports that Lennon planned to take part in a protest at the 1972 Republican National Convention.

South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond seized on that, suggesting to President Nixon's attorney general that Lennon's visa be terminated.


A few weeks later, Lennon was given 30 days to leave the country and was notified that his visa had been terminated because of an old drug arrest in England.

"I think that the world really loved the Beatles for being charming and sweet," Ono said. "But some people did resent the fact that they were no more the sweet, nice, charming boys."

Ono and Lennon did not want to leave the United States, and a legal battle ensued.

In 1976, after the end of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, Lennon won.

The judge in the case wrote that the British singer's battle to stay in the United States was a "testimony to his faith in the American dream."

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