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Feared former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had spies watching Pierre Trudeau beginning almost 50 years ago, declassified documents show.

The documents, stamped "Confidential," show Mr. Hoover had Mr. Trudeau under surveillance as far back as Oct. 16, 1951.

Based on the heavily censored file, Mr. Hoover and his famed G-men clearly believed Mr. Trudeau was either a closet Communist or soft on Communist leaders.

Every U.S. president who dealt with Mr. Trudeau likely saw his FBI file.

Reports were made to the U.S. secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and the attorney-general, John Mitchell, when both worked for then-president Richard Nixon.

The FBI also looked in on Margaret Trudeau, while she visited New York City in 1977, during her days of cavorting with rock stars and roguish celebrities.

Agents also forwarded her pocketbook after it was lost in Newport, R.I., in 1974 but not before carefully documenting its contents in a confidential letter to FBI headquarters in Washington.

Much of the reports, as well as directives on Mr. Trudeau signed by Mr. Hoover, were blacked out before being released.

Protecting U.S. national security, foreign policy and those who gathered the information were cited as the reasons for withholding vast sections of the 161-page report.

FBI reports on individuals can be made public after they die. The file also included terse agent reports on four assassination threats made against Mr. Trudeau in the United States.

One of them from Detroit, received in 1980, had Mr. Trudeau's name on a handwritten hit list that included figures as diverse as then-president Ronald Reagan and Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner.

While careful to censor the name and contents of most of their reports and correspondents, the wide scope of the clandestine surveillance of Mr. Trudeau was clear.

A letter addressed to Mr. Hoover from the bureau's Ottawa office suggests the FBI first began watching the young Mr. Trudeau as far back as October of 1951.

The letter, which was copied to the FBI's Paris office, is stamped "Confidential" and was completely blacked out, apart from a handwritten admonition not to disseminate it.

The subject line has "INTERNAL SECURITY" typed into it, indicating the FBI believed Mr. Trudeau might have been a threat to the security of the United States.