Thousands of pages of US intelligence documents on Nelson Mandela were made public on Wednesday, revealing that Washington continued to monitor the anti-apartheid hero 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 US and South African anti-apartheid movements as communist plots imperiling American security,” said the group’s president, Ryan Shapiro.
“Worse still, the documents demonstrate the FBI continued its wrong-headed communist menace investigations of Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement even after US imposition of trade sanctions against apartheid SA, after Mandela’s globally celebrated release from prison, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
Nelson Mandela was regarded with suspicion by Washington during the Cold War and remained on the US terrorism watch list until 2008.
Property of the People said its trove included documents from the major US intelligence agencies, the FBI, CIA, DIA and NSA, most of which have never been seen by the public.
Southern Africa was a key Cold War battleground, as newly independent states in the region such as Angola and Mozambique aligned with Moscow.
Celebrations across SA this week to mark Mandela’s 100th birthday included a rousing speech on Tuesday by former US president Barack Obama, who said the world should resist cynicism over the rise of strongmen.