Although the CIA refused to confirm that it had spied upon James Brown, they did not deny having done so.
The ‘Godfather of Soul’, who died in 2006 aged 73, claimed he was the subject of a spying campaign after he intervened following the murder of civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King in 1968.
Now the mystery has been reignited as court documents reveal the CIA said it could not discuss any links to Brown as this could ‘cause serious damage to US national security’.
The lawsuit was filed by CNN against the CIA in violation of freedom-of-information laws. It is due for a hearing next year.
The ‘Godfather of Soul’ (pictured), who died in 2006 aged 73, claimed he was the subject of a spying campaign after he intervened following the murder of civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King in 1968
The CIA, America’s foreign intelligence agency, is banned from spying on US citizens within the country.
These accusations were made first by the musician, also known as The Godfather Of Soul, just before his sudden death due to heart failure.
Brown claimed that the spotlight was on him because he intervened in the Luther King murder.
The singer, by then one of the most prominent black entertainers in America, appeared on television urging enraged black communities to ‘cool it’.
Brown also played in the widely-broadcast Boston concert the night following the murder, which was credited for stopping the spread of riots in certain US cities.
In his 2005 book ‘I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul’, Brown said: ‘There was a lot of suspicion, especially among the national police, the FBI, and the CIA about this so-called display of ‘Black Power’ on my part.
‘Their thinking went something along the lines of, if he could stop a riot….he could just as easily start one.
‘From that moment I knew I was put under national security surveillance…I could sense them watching me, spying on me, staking out my home.’
Brown claimed that the spotlight was on him because he intervened in the Luther King Murder case. Pictured by Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963
The book’s co-author Marc Eliot said told CNN that he did not believe the claims were true.
Brown did go on to claim ‘they were able to see me through TV’ with ‘some kind of special reverse X-rays or something’.
CNN initiated the legal action in March. The judge will make a decision next year.
The CIA responded to the lawsuit by saying that they could not locate any documents unclassified concerning Brown.
The agency denied that any of the classified records were on Brown, but it said they could confirm and deny.
It said that confirming an individual has co-operated with the agency could ‘cause the targets to take retaliatory action against that person or against their family or friends’.
Brown has been targeted numerous times by US tax inspectors and the FBI over his long career.
Brown, then a friend of Richard Nixon in 1972, complained that he was harassed and questioned by officials from an unnamed department.