Ernest Hemingway, FBI Victim, Spy Wannabe, Both or Neither?
I went looking for more information and discovered an FBI file on Hemingway, released under the FOIA and webbed. It is an interesting document, but it provides very little support for Hotchner's claims.
Hemingway ended up, at least by his own account (reported by the FBI agent, presumably from his contacts in the Embassy) setting up his own spy network. The FBI concluded, however, that the information being produced was worthless, "that it is completely unreliable, that the time taken to investigate it and check on it is purely wasted time and wasted effort, ... ."
He enjoys the complete personal confidence of the American Ambassador and the Legal Attache has witnessed conferences where the Ambassador observed Hemingway's opinions as gospel and followed enthusiastically Hemingway's warning of the probable seizure of Cuba by a force of 30,000 Germans transported to the island in 1,000 submarines.
There is very little in the file from the post WWII period. The most nearly relevant bit is a report about Hemingway as a patient at Mayo:
“(something whited out) Mayo Clinic, advised to eliminate publicity and contacts by newsmen, the Clinic had suggested that Mr. Hemingway register under the alias GEORGE SEVIER. (something whited out) stated that Mr. HEMINGWAY is now worried about his registering under an assumed name, and is concerned about an FBI investigation. (something whited out) stated that inasmuch as this worry was interfering with the treatment of Mr. HEMINGWAY, he desired authorization to tell HEMINGWAY that the FBI was not concerned with his registering under an assumed name. (something whited out) was advised that there was no objection.”
Over the following years, agents filed reports on him and tapped his phones. The surveillance continued all through his confinement at St. Mary’s Hospital. It is likely that the phone outside his room was tapped after all.
I found, from another source, a report of Hemingway being at some point a spy for the KGB:
However, he failed to “give us any political information” and was never “verified in practical work”, so contacts with Argo [Hemingway] had ceased by the end of the decade.”
[I have been unable to find an email address for Hotchner, so couldn't ask him where in the FBI file he found evidence of phone taps or continued surveillance. With luck someone will point him at this post, in which case he is more than welcome to defend what he wrote.]