A file kept by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the late author and scholar Christopher Hitchens was released this week, revealing that he was, in his earlier years, the target of an FBI foreign counterintelligence investigation.
The documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. They also show that Hitchens was monitored by the FBI in his youth while he toured American universities, and the nation’s top law enforcement bureau even kept notes on his early political leanings.
The documents show that he was investigated when he entered the U.S. in the 1970s on an academic travel scholarship. “Whilst a student at Oxford, HITCHENS was a member of the International socialism (Cliff) Group of Trotskyites and the Oxford Revolutionary Socialist Students,” one form explains. “He took an active part in several demonstrations and was arrested and fined on two occasions.”
Other documents pertain to his immigration and naturalization process, along with a vetting by the Secret Service after he applied for a White House press pass.
Hitchens died in Dec. 2011 at the age of 62 after a prolonged battle with cancer of the esophagus. A renowned atheist and thinker, he often drew critics from the political left and the right, having supported the Iraq war, but also having railed against the abuses of the Catholic Church and U.S. foreign policy during the Nixon years.
The Historiographic Anarchy blog added that it had filed a separate FOIA with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agnecy, only to be stonewalled: the agency would not confirm or deny if it had any documents on Hitchens.
The FBI, however, may yet have more documents forthcoming. The file was apparently “preprocessed” before Hitchens died, according to a note on the documents.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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