Mr. Snowden to Mr. Blaine.

No. 68.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that a few days after my return to Greece I received a communication from M. Dragoumis, late minister of foreign affairs, refusing to release Emmanuel C. Catechi from the military service of Greece. The reasons assigned are given in his communication, a copy of which is herewith inclosed (No. 1). From this you will observe that he meets none of the arguments and facts submitted for his consideration, including the substance of your dispatch No. 40, which had been communicated, but contents himself with the statement that “according to existing laws in Greece the above-named (Catechi) could not change his nationality before his majority and his obtaining the authority of the Royal Government.”

In addition to my note of September 18, I wrote and telegraphed to the late prime minister (Trecoupi) urging the prompt release of Catechi, to which I received no reply. The whole matter, so far as I can learn, was practically handed over to the military council, whose conclusions were accepted without further examination.

As soon as it was possible after the organization of the new Government I presented the case most fully to the new minister of foreign affairs, M. Deligeorges, and also to the prime minister, M. Deliyanni, who is minister of war. With both these I have had protracted interviews, as well as with the minister of finance, with whom I have long been on terms of personal intimacy.

As is perhaps natural, the new cabinet has some hesitation in taking up a question which was decided by its predecessor, although manifesting entire willingness to discuss the merits of the case.

On the occasion of my last interview but one with the minister of foreign affairs, when pressing upon his attention the facts of the case, with the arguments based thereon and the Hellenic law as applied thereto, he requested that I do him the kindness of restating the case and presenting therewith the arguments I had advanced in urging the release of Catechi. This statement I presented in person to-day, and after a protracted interview left the minister under the impression that the decision of the late Government will be overruled and Catechi released.

I desire, however, the instructions of the Department for guidance in the event of the refusal to release Catechi.

I have, etc.,

A. Loudon Snowden.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 68—Translation.]

Mr. Dragoumis to Mr. Snowden.

Sir: I received the note you did me the honor to address me from Belgrade on the 18th of last September relative to Emmanuel C. Catechi, for whom you claim exemption from military service on the ground that he is an American citizen.

Since then I have received a letter from the United States consul at Patras, in which, whilst referring to your above-mentioned note, he asserts that the identity of Emmanuel C. Catechi has been mistaken for that of a certain Emanuel A. Catechi.

I forwarded your note to the minister of war, and the reasons given by that department are so peremptory that in all justice you will see that it is impossible for me to accede toyottr request to exempt said Catechi from miiitarv service.

[Page 517]

According to the existing laws in Greece, the above mentioned could not ehange his nationality before attaining his majority and obtaining the authorization of the Royal Government; any naturalization obtained outside of these conditions could not absolve him of the legal obligation he is under to the Hellenic laws and principally towards military service.

As to the question of mistaken identity, I have also referred the matter to the ministry of war and shall inform you of the result of the investigation.

I have, etc.,

E. Dragoumis.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 68.]

Mr. Snowden to Mr. Deligeorges.

Sir: I cheerfully comply with your suggestion for a restatement of the facts and arguments heretofore presented to the late Government, and those which I have had the honor on several occasions to submit to Your Excellency and to the prime minister, in relation to the case of Emmanuel C. Catechi, a citizen of the United States, conscripted and now held in the military service of Greece.

The facts in the case can be briefly stated. Emmanuel C. Catechi was born in the island of Merlera, Corfu, on the 15th day of March, 1858, and emigrated to the United States in 1872, when 14 years of age. After residing therein for a period of about 7 years, he became, in accordance with the laws, a naturalized citizen of the United States on the 16th day of April, 1879, being then over 21 years of age. He continued to reside in the United States until the year 1885, when he returned to Corfu to visit his parents. On his arrival in Greece, bearing his naturalization papers and a passport issued by the Department of State at Washington, he was duly registered as a citizen at our consular agency at Corfu.

Shortly after his return to Corfu he was conscripted for your military service, but on the establishment of his claim to American citizenship was promptly released. In 1886 he was again conscripted, his name not having been removed from the conscription list. Again he was released on the application of our consular agent at Corfu, who again established his claim to foreign citizenship. To avoid future annoyance on this score, and acting on the advice of the Numark of Corfu and United States Consular Agent Woodley, he petitioned the court to have his name removed from the conscription list. Judicial proceedings were had before your courts, which resulted in the imposition of the minimum penalty in fine and imprisonment allowed under your laws where a subject of Greece changes his allegiance without permission of your Government. In accordance with the decree of your court, he paid the fine and suffered the imprisonment, and it was clearly understood his (Catechi’s) name would be stricken from the list of those subject to military conscription, and the United States consular agent at Corfu asserts that his name was, in fact, removed from the original catalogue of his district. Be that as it may, the fact remains that he was again conscripted during the month of May last and forced into the military service, where he still remains in spite of the most earnest remonstrances on the part of the representative of my Government.

On the last conscription of Catechi, as on the two previous ones, the United States consular agent at Corfu submitted to your authorities the proof of his American citizenship, and in addition a copy of the proceedings of your courts, through which Catechi had purged himself of the only offense charged against him under your laws.

The local authorities, however, continued and still continue to hold Catechi in military duress in disregard of his rights as an American citizen, in disregard of the precedents established in his own case, and of the fact that if he had committed an offense in changing his allegiance without permission—a doctrine against which my Government is ever disposed to expostulate—he had, by suffering the judicial penalty imposed by your court, purged himself and stood before your law as if permission to change his allegiance had been granted previous to his becoming an American citizen.

On learning of the conscription of Catechi, although absent from your capital on official duty elsewhere, I immediately addressed a communication to your predecessor, setting forth the facts as communicated to me, and on them requested the release of Catechi from your military service. My communication was supplemented by one from the United States consul at Patras, who in my absence, acting under direct instructions from, my Government, presented in detail all the facts in the case and upon them requested the release of Catechi. To my communication of September 18, and to that of the United States consul at Patras of October 6, no reply was received until there arrived by mail at Patras on the 5th of November a communication from His Excellency the late minister of foreign affairs, dated October 19.

[Page 518]

In his reply the late minister does not attempt to controvert any of the facts or arguments advanced for the release of Catechi, hut contents himself with saying that “according to existing laws in Greece the above mentioned (Catechi) could not change his nationality before attaining his majority and obtaining the authority of the Royal Government. All naturalization obtained outside of these conditions could not absolve him of the legal obligations he is under to Hellenic laws and particularly toward the military service.”

I submit to your candid judgment whether this answer meets the case as presented or is in harmony with the facts or with your own law as applied to them by your highest legal tribunal having such cases in charge.

The law requiring the royal assent to enable a Greek subject to change his nationality, to which the late minister refers, inflicts a punishment when that assent is not obtained. Is not the infliction of this punishment a clear indication that your law recognizes that a Greek subject may change his nationality without such assent? If this be not the case the assumption of foreign allegiance by a Greek subject is a nullity, requiring no attention from your Government.

It would seem, however, that the logical purpose of your law in inflicting a penalty upon a Greek subject who fails to obtain the royal assent to a transfer of allegiance is that when the legal punishment has been inflicted, the penalty is exhausted and the person paying the same placed before your law precisely in the position he would occupy if he had received the royal assent before changing his allegiance. This is the construction placed upon a similar law in France, and, if it is not a fair interpretation of your law, I fail to recognize any logical force in its provisions.

To hold, as in the case of Catechi, who has suffered the penalty imposed by your law for his becoming an American citizen without your assent, that, after suffering the penalty of his oversight or neglect, you can still demand of him military service, as if his allegiance had never been changed, appears most illogical.

If the change of allegiance on the part of a Greek subject affords to him no immunity from your military or other service on his return to Greece, why inflict punishment in addition to the service you demand of him?

Does it seem reasonable, or even possible, that your law can bear such a construction? There is another fact bearing upon this point in the case, and to which I beg to call your attention. I am informed from a reliable source that, under your penal law, where a former subject has suffered the penalty imposed for changing his nationality without the royal assent, as in the case of Catechi, he thereby loses all the civil rights enjoyed by subjects of Greece.

If this be true, upon what ground can military service be demanded where civil sights are denied? A primary principle of government is that protection and rervice are reciprocal. Surely, where the first is refused the latter should not be required. That your laws contemplate no such injustice I am the more convinced, not alone from the general spirit that pervades them, but especially from the perusal of twoofinions given by the legal counsel of the Kingdom having special reference to cases similar to the one under consideration. One of theseofinions bears directly upon the facts as presented in the case of Catechi. Bothofinions are dated June 14, 1886, and numbered 16 and 17, and may be found in the “Collection ofofinions and Sentences of the Legal Council in Doubtful Administration,” pages 290 and 291. Both theseofinions illustrate the liberality that pervades your laws. I shall, however, content myself by quoting but one, No. 17, which most singularly and fully covers the case under consideration. Thisofinion was delivered upon the appeal of A to hold S to military service so that A might be released therefrom. The case, as stated, was “whether the acquirer of a foreign allegiance is regarded as a foreigner if he was a minor when he asked permission therefor.” Theofinion of the legal council is as follows:

“Whereas, since the appellant, citizen A, does not dispute that conscript S, against whom the appeal is taken, had, before his conscription, obtained a foreign citizenship and is regarded now as a foreigner; and

“Whereas it is immaterial whether he was under age when he asked for the Hellenic Government’s permission:

“Therefore, because he was able, even without such permission, to change his nationality, subject only to the penalty prescribed in the penal laws, the essential question is whether he legally acquired the foreign allegiance according to the laws of that foreign state, which is not disputed in the present case.

“Accordingly the court denies the appeal of A.”

It will be seen from thisofinion that your highest court decides that a minor can, without the royal assent, change his nationality, subject only to the penalty prescribed in the penal laws.

On this vital point the opinion fully covers the case of Emmanuel C. Catechi.

He emigrated during his minority and became an American citizen without the royal assent, but on his return to Greece, being subject only to the penalty prescribed in the penal laws, he suffered the punishment, thereby exhausted the penalty, and is [Page 519] no longer amenable to Greek law as a subject but as an alien. It must logically follow that he was unlawfully conscripted and is now held in your military service in violation of his rights as an American citizen and in violation of your own laws as expounded by your highest judicial tribunal having cognizance in such cases.

The proofs that Catechi was naturalized as an American citizen in accordance with the law of the United States, to which he claims allegiance, are conclusive and have not been disputed. You will find them on file in your office. They include a copy of his naturalization papers issued by the authority of the United States and a passport based thereon issued by the State Department at Washington.

In referring to another point to which I had the honor to allude in our personal discussion of this case, I beg to say that I do not do so for the purpose of strengthening the case under consideration, which requires nothing further in fact or in law to effect the immediate release of Catechi from your military service. It is nevertheless an interesting point to consider that Catechi was not born a subject of Greece, but at a period when the Ionian Islands were under British rule, and, further, that before he had arrived either at manhood or at the age at which conscription is authorized, he removed to the United States, and, after remaining there for the period required by our laws, became a naturalized American citizen. The transfer of the Ionian Islands to Greece by Great Britain took place when Catechi was but 4 years old, and, although there is no reference in the text of the treaty of transfer as to the future status of the inhabitants of these islands, it must be gravely doubted whether a child born as a citizen or subject of a country can have the birthright of nationality taken away when as an infant he is unable legally to assent or dissent. It should be remembered that Catechi, at the earliest lawful period after his emigration to the United States, became an American citizen, which as an English-born subject he had a lawful right to become under treaty stipulations between Great Britain and the United States. I submit that in this he committed no offense against the laws of any country to which he held lawful or natural allegiance.

Passing from this point, it must not be forgotten that Catechi left Greece before the age at which, even if a subject of Greece, he could be called to perform military service. He did not leave your country to evade any duty, but as a youth he departed from the land of his birth to find a home elsewhere, leaving no obligation unsatisfied.

All the facts and circumstances surrounding this case, and the spirit of your laws as applied to them, make earnest appeal for the prompt release of Catechi, who has been permitted to remain too long in the service of a Government to which he holds no allegiance, and to which he is made to render an unwilling and unnatural service. I therefore, on behalf of my Government, renew the request for the immediate release of, Catechi from your military service on the ground of his American citizenship and orhis legal exemption under the judgment of 1886, and that steps be taken to prevent his future molestation on this ground.

I seize, etc.,

A. Loudon Snowden.