James Earl Ray, convicted assassin of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., filed suit in state and federal courts to block his possible transfer to a federal penitentiary.

Jack Kershaw, an attorney for Ray, said the suits were filed because the FBI had threatened Ray with reprisals against his family because Ray had not provided federal investigators with names of alleged "co-conspirators" in the King assassination.

Ray, 49, serving a 99-year prison term, escaped earlier this month from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in east Tennessee. He and five other others were recaptured following a massive manhunt.

Tennessee Gov Ray Blanton has asked President Carter to permit the federal government to take custody of Ray because of Ray's past history of escapes and because Ray was convicted of murdering "a figure of national prominence." The Justice Department is expected to reach a decision on the request this week.

Ray claims that transfer to a federal prison would violate his rights guaranteed by the Tennessee and U.S. constitutions. The suits also charged that a transfer would deny Ray's right sto effective representation by counsel in his bid for a new trial and in the pending escape charge.