BERKELEY, Calif. - FBI investigators trailed a 1960s student protest leader for more than a decade despite having no evidence he broke any federal laws, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Hundreds of pages of FBI files, obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, showed that investigators collected personal information about Mario Savio, including documents on his marriage and divorce, without a court order. The FBI also obtained copies of Savio's tax returns in violation of federal rules.
According to the files, the FBI feared the Free Speech Movement that Savio helped lead at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964 would spread to other college campuses across the country.
The movement started in response to the college's ban of political activity on campus. Savio led a massive sit-in in December 1964 to protest the move, resulting in 800 student arrests.
The FBI files showed that Savio was designated a "key activist" by the agency, and was placed on a list of people to be detained without warrant in the event of a national emergency.
Savio died in 1996.
LaRae Quy, an FBI spokeswoman in San Francisco, refused to comment on Savio's case but said the FBI now operates with a greater concern for First Amendment rights.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who was involved in the Free Speech Movement as a student at Berkeley in the 1960s, called the FBI's treatment of Savio "outrageous."
© 2004 The Associated Press