When Nelson Mandela visited the U.S. for the first time in June 1990, he was under the watch of the FBI.
Al Jazeera America reports that the FBI used a confidential source to spy on Mandela, who had been recently released after spending 27 years in prison.
The newly released documents are heavily redacted and give little detail about the intelligence.
What’s certain is that the source provided information about Mandela’s travel itinerary, according to a memo from the Atlanta field office to then-FBI Director William Sessions.
“What’s missing from these documents is often as illuminative as what’s disclosed,” said Ryan Shapiro, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology doctoral candidate who studies the policing of dissent. “Not only did the FBI heavily redact and withhold documents, but there’s virtually no discussion of U.S. intelligence community involvement prior to Mandela’s 1990 release from prison.”