Call on U.S. to Admit Role in Nelson Mandela’s Imprisonment

mandelas cell window

Target: John Brennan, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Goal: Demand that the American government open official records regarding its involvement in the plot to capture former South African President Nelson Mandela

Famed activist and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela endured 27 years in prison after authorities captured him for his role in fighting apartheid. In an interview with Democracy Now! transparency advocate Ryan Shapiro recently discussed his efforts to force the United States to acknowledge its role in the deceased leader’s capture.

Shapiro has helped expose thousands of secret documents detailing government infiltration and monitoring of political movements, and is suing multiple federal agencies to force release of information about Mandela’s capture. According to Shapiro the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Administration (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and other departments have fought to keep their role in Mandela’s apprehension a secret since 1962. Over the years enough details have leaked to more than justify his search for truth.

Shapiro told interviewers he is driven by a desire to expose “what role the U.S. intelligence community played in thwarting Mandela’s struggle for racial justice and democracy in South Africa.” Demand that the CIA comply fully with Shapiro’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and come clean about its role in the capture of Nelson Mandela.


Dear Director Brennan,

The global community is increasingly aware of the CIA’s role in apprehending and overthrowing foreign leaders. The capture and imprisonment of former South African president Nelson Mandela is a case in point according to leading transparency activist Ryan Shapiro. While the United States has never admitted it assisted in his capture there is reason to believe that the CIA directly contributed information that led to Mandela’s imprisonment and has spent more than fifty years covering it up.

According to Shapiro the relationship between South Africa’s apartheid regime and the CIA went on for decades, contributing to the civil war in Angola and other destabilization attempts in the region. Mandela was on his way to meet a CIA official posing as an American diplomat at the time of his arrest. Shapiro’s pending lawsuit against your agency charges the CIA with violating federal law by failing to comply with his FOIA requests for classified documents related to the coup.

Former senior CIA operative Paul Eckel admitted the agency’s role in Mandela’s capture as early as 1990. The United States awarded Mandela the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal and U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom yet continued to classify him as a terrorist until 2008. I urge you to fully comply with Shapiro’s FOIA requests and come clean about the CIA’s role in capturing and imprisoning one of the world’s most celebrated leaders and peace activists, Nelson Mandela.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Witstinkhout via Wikimedia

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