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From the
Freedom of Information Act

New Hiss case evidence — meaning evidence that has existed for many years in various federal government files, but was for a long time withheld from both the defense and the general public — has slowly been coming to light over the past quarter century. The release of executive branch documents (from the FBI, the State Department, and other agencies) under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act began in the 1970s, and continues to this day. (Releases from the other two branches of government have been far more recent: a federal judge made the Hiss case grand jury testimony public in 1999, and in 2001 the House of Representatives released executive session testimony and investigators' reports from the old House Committee on Un-American Activities, including 1948 material relating to Whittaker Chambers' charges against Alger Hiss.)

Alger Hiss based his 1978 coram nobis petition, asking that his conviction be overturned — due to prosecutorial misconduct — on documents received from the FBI under FOIA. The articles appearing on this page will discuss a number of issues raised by FOIA releases that relate to the Hiss case.

FBI Documents Reveal FBI Surveillance of Hiss

Two years after filing the original coram nobis brief, Alger Hiss's attorney in 1980 filed a memorandum of law containing further instances of alleged governmental misconduct while in pursuit of a perjury conviction.

Journalist Fred J. Cook, who first investigated the case in 1957, wrote about the brief for The Nation and said that it contained "the most shocking revelations yet" about the government's activities.

Click here to read Cook's report.

Alger Hiss Discusses His
Coram Nobis Suit

In a lengthy, candid 1978 interview for The Advocate, a news publication of the Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Alger Hiss discussed his coram nobis petition and other legal aspects of his case. Click here to read the interview.


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