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Timothy Leary Was FBI Narc

Timothy Leary, the counterculture guru whose Â"turn on, tune in, drop outÂ" preachings made him an anti-establishment icon in the 1960s, quietly cooperated with the FBI in 1974 and informed on a radical leftist group in hopes of winning his freedom from jail, newly released FBI records show.

He even identified his collaborators in a 1970 escape from prison, where he was serving a drug-related sentence. Four years later, caught and jailed again, Leary told an FBI agent that he wanted to see Â"if I can work out a collaborative and ... an honorable relationship.Â"

Â"I want to get out of prison as quickly as I can,Â" Leary said in a meeting with an FBI agent, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and two California state law enforcement officials.

Fourteen pages of Leary's FBI file, including interview transcripts and FBI reports, were published on the Internet this week by The Smoking Gun, an online site that publishes documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The FBI confirmed their authenticity.

In all, the FBI released 585 pages, said Bill Bastone, editor of the Internet site.

Leary, who died of cancer in 1996, described for the FBI how members of the leftist Weather Underground helped him escape from a California prison in 1970. In one passage, an agent said, Â"You've mentioned numerous Weathermen so far, is it correct to assume that each one of them knew ... they were aiding in your escape?Â"

Â"Oh, no question about it,Â" Leary responded.

Leary wrote in his 1983 autobiography that the FBI wanted him to inform on the Weather Underground but that he didn't Â"want to be called a snitch.Â"

Rumors that Leary was cooperating with the FBI circulated in 1974, and left-wing leaders said the Â"high priest of LSDÂ" was simply lying to federal agents to get out of jail.

A former Harvard lecturer who was kicked out of the university after he conducted experiments with psychedelic drugs, Leary became the foremost prophet and proselytizer for LSD during the turbulent 1960s. The drug inspired Leary's most famous line: Â"Turn on, tune in, drop out.Â"

His advocacy of drug use brought numerous run-ins with the law. In 1970 he was serving a 10-year sentence for marijuana possession when a group from the Weather Underground helped him in a daring escape from a jail in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Leary fled the United States and bounced from country to country. U.S. agents eventually caught up with him in Afghanistan. He was sent back to prison in California in 1973.

In May of the following year he met with FBI agents for a series of interviews, the documents show.

Leary told the FBI that the group helped get him false IDs and helped plan his escape out of the country. He identified some of his collaborators through photographs and was even taken from jail and driven around to identify safehouses where he as hidden after his escape.

An FBI document shows that the agents believed the Leary interviews Â"provide the basis for some federal action against culpable principals and conspirators in this and other matters.Â"

But nothing Leary told the FBI resulted in criminal charges, said Douglas Rushkoff, Leary's literary agent and a close friend.

Rushkoff said too much was being made of the FBI files. Â"He wanted to be a productive member of society and not stuck in jail,Â" said Rushkoff. Â"It's just so funny that this stuff is being used to discredit him.Â"