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FBI spied on King's widow for years

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"By Jen Wainwright

Published: 01 September 2007

Newly released documents show that FBI agents spied on the widow of Martin Luther King for several years after he was shot dead in 1968.

The documents, which include an intercepted letter written by Coretta Scott King and various memos sent to FBI headquarters, reveal federal agents' fears that Ms Scott King would continue the work of her late husband. That she could try "to tie the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement" was of particular concern.

After tailing her movements for four years, the government closed its file on Coretta Scott King with a statement that "no information has come to the attention of Atlanta which indicates a propensity for violence or affiliation of subversive elements."

For those closely connected with Martin Luther King, the leading light of the civil rights movement, the close surveillance of his widow comes as no great shock. The Rev Joseph Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (which he co-founded with King in 1957), said: "The FBI kept a microphone everywhere they could where the SCLC was concerned."

J Edgar Hoover, the FBI director at the time, "hated Martin Luther King and everything that the SCLC stood for," Mr Lowery added.

A lieutenant of King's, Andrew Young, has expressed rather more surprise at the actions of the government agency, saying that Coretta Scott King had "the makings of a saint". "I don't know what they were expecting to find," he said."

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