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FBI Releases New Documents Detailing Extensive Spying on Nelson Mandela in Response to MIT Student’s FOIA Lawsuit

[CAMBRIDGE, MA] As revealed in an exclusive report by Jason Leopold for Al Jazeera America, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro has received a second batch of documents from the FBI as part of Shapiro’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records on Nelson Mandela.  In the wake of recent NSA and FBI spying revelations, the documents obtained by Shapiro shed light on decades of politically motivated FBI surveillance, including the monitoring of Mandela’s post-prison meeting with a Yugoslavian President and the surveillance of Mandela’s meetings with activists in the USA.

nelson mandela fbi spy files

The first batch of documents, received by Shapiro last month, exposed FBI spying on Mandela during his historic 1990 visit to the U.S. shortly after his release from 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities.

The newly released second batch of documents provides additional evidence of FBI monitoring and surveillance of Mandela’s activities, both prior to and following his release from prison. This included FBI monitoring of Mandela’s meetings with world leaders.

Further, the newly released documents also reveal FBI investigation of the South African and U.S. anti-apartheid movements as being Communist threats to American domestic security. Notably, these FBI “Communist” threat investigations of the anti-apartheid movement continued even after U.S. imposition of trade sanctions against apartheid South Africa, after Mandela’s release from prison, and after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Shapiro, a FOIA specialist, is an historian of the political functioning of national security and the policing of dissent. His pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is also suing the NSA, CIA, and DIA over those agencies’ failure to comply with his FOIA requests for records on Mandela. Shapiro is represented by FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

Six key takeaways from the FBI’s latest release of documents to Shapiro:

Investigative Journalist and MIT PhD Candidate Sue CIA for Spy Records: Duo Targets Agency for Illegal Surveillance on Senate Investigation of CIA Torture

[WASHINGTON, DC] Investigative journalist Jason Leopold and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro filed a lawsuit this morning against the Central Intelligence Agency. The suit is over the CIA’s failure to comply with Leopold and Shapiro’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records on the CIA’s alleged spying on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s (SSCI) review of the CIA’s notorious rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) program.


As detailed in an exclusive report by Natasha Lennard for Vice News, through their FOIA request and lawsuit, Leopold and Shapiro seek to shed light on a critical yet little-understood ongoing controversy frequently described as a possible constitutional crisis.

Jason Leopold is an investigative journalist covering counterterrorism and human rights. He has been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for his aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act, which includes successfully suing the FBI to force changes to Bureau FOIA practices.

Ryan Shapiro, a FOIA specialist, is an historian of the political functioning of national security and the policing of dissent. Shapiro’s pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security.

Leopold and Shapiro are represented by Washington, DC-based FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

Three key elements of Shapiro and Leopold’s FOIA request and lawsuit:

Cecily McMillan Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail & 5 years Probation: Official Statement from Cecily’s Support Committee

[NEW YORK, NY]  After years of awaiting trial Cecily McMillan was sentenced this morning to a term of incarceration of 90 days on New York’s Rikers Island and a probationary term of 5 years for allegations that she assaulted NYPD officer Grantley Bovel. Posted below is the official statement of her support team.

Cecily McMillan

Today, Cecily Mcmillan was sentenced to 90 days in prison for being sexually assaulted by a police officer at a protest, and then responding to that violence by defending herself. We all know that Cecily did not receive a fair trial and this case will be fought in the Court of Appeals.

Still Falling: The Fight to Preserve Tasmania’s World Heritage Forests

[AUSTRALIA]  Miranda Gibson has devoted years of her life to defending Tasmania’s old growth forests.  Holding Australia’s record for longest tree sit, Miranda is no stranger to the long haul of tenacious grassroots campaigns for eco-defence.

Miranda’s Observer Tree sit lasted 449 days and her six and a half years working on the Florentine Forest blockade has awarded World Heritage Protection status for the otherwise doomed Florentine eucalyptus stand.

Miranda is apprehensive of the word “victory” as she sees her struggle as an ever-poised and vigilant stance against creeping, rapacious development.

Despite Miranda’s laundry list of victories for the forests of Tasmania, the Australian government is attempting to delist several forests from World Heritage Protection status, Tasmanian trees are Still Falling, and these forests need your help.

Take action and join Miranda’s fight:

Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova & Masha Alyokhina Visit Rikers Island in Support of Cecily McMillan: Join Jurors, Elected Officials in Calling for Immediate Release

[NEW YORK, NY]  At 11:00am EST Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina of Pussy Riot / Zona Prava visited New York’s Rikers Island to meet with jailed Occupy protestor Cecily McMillan. Cecily, who was groped and beaten by the NYPD on March 17, 2012, was convicted of assaulting a police officer on May 5, 2014, and was immediately remanded to the New York Department of Corrections until her sentencing hearing on May 19, 2014. The purpose of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina’s visit was to show solidarity with Cecily and to learn more about the injustices she experienced.

nadya + mashaNadya & Masha | photo by Glen E. Friedman

Since their incarceration in Russian prisons for their own political protests Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina have been outspoken in showing solidarity to political prisoners around the world. Since her imprisonment, Cecily McMillan has seen a groundswell of thousands of supporters calling for her release via a petition. Cecily’s supporters have also included several unexpected shows of solidarity. On Thursday May 8, 2014, nine of the twelve jurors that convicted McMillan signed letters to Judge Zweibel requesting he show Cecily leniency at sentencing. New York City elected officials are also expected to hold a press conference at City Hall on Monday May 12, 2014 at 12pm wherein they too will be asking for leniency for Cecily.

The following is a statement from Cecily McMillan’s support committee regarding this morning’s visit »