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Timothy Leary was an FBI informer

Andrew Gumbel
Monday 28 June 1999 23:02 BST
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TIMOTHY LEARY, the Sixties counter-culture guru who urged the world to "tune in, turn on, drop out", collaborated with government agents and informed on friends in the left-wing underground to obtain his early release from prison, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation documents just published on the Internet.

Leary - who died from prostate cancer, aged 76, three years ago - preached anti-establishment slogans all his life. But in the early 1970s, facing the possibility of life in jail on drugs and other charges, it seems he changed his mind. "I want to get out of prison as quickly as I can," he told the FBI. "I'd like to ...work out a collaborative ... intelligent and honest relationship with different government agencies and law enforcement agencies." The files suggest he was of "more intelligence value than evidentiary value", and his statements did not result in any prosecutions.

Leary, who was a Harvard psychology professor before becoming a vocal advocate of LSD and other mind-altering drugs, first wound up in prison in 1970 on two charges of possession. The following year, however, he was sprung from jail by the radical guerrilla group, the Weathermen.

After he was caught in Switzerland and sent home, he decided to collaborate.

Much of his evidence involved naming members of the Weathermen and detailing their role in his escape. The names are deleted in the files, which appear on a website devoted to unearthing old government documents called The Smoking Gun.

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