There was a relentless government effort to deport former Beatle musician John Lennon in the early 1970s, according to heavily censored FBI files. The FBI and immigration files were released under the Freedom of Information Act and published in the Los Angeles Times. They show that the FBI hoped to arrest the late British musician on drug charges or otherwise ''neutralize'' him so that he could be deported before the 1972 Republican Convention. The FBI was concerned that he would lead a massive antiwar demonstration against then President Richard Nixon. The documents show that FBI agents monitored the singer's public appearances and kept records on his private life. An FBI official said several such investigations of famous personalities were going on at the same time.
The documents were requested by Jon Wiener, a history professor at the University of California, Irvine, who is writing a book on Mr. Lennon and the politics of the '60s. Because the FBI documents are heavily censored, the American Civil Liberties Union prepared to file a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the government's right to keep its files secret. Professor Wiener was to join in the ACLU suit.