Mr. Blaine to Mr. Hirsch.
Washington, April 9, 1890.
Sir: Your dispatch No. 99 of the 19th ultimo has been received. It recites the case of the alleged illegal arrest and maltreatment of Moses Angel and Shalom Kanstoroom, citizens of the United States, by the authorities of Jerusalem, on the ground, it is said, of delinquency in the payment of their taxes on real estate owned by them, and, as asserted by the governor of Jerusalem, of abusive and threatening conduct on the part of the alleged delinquents.
These cases were brought to the knowledge of the Department by a report from the consul at Jerusalem, No. 147, dated January 28, 1890. Your present report confirms all that was then related by Mr. Gillman, and is, moreover, accompanied by a number of affidavits of disinterested witnesses, who testify to the brutality of the treatment suffered by these American citizens at the hands of the Turkish soldiery. Mr. Gillman’s action in seeking redress has already had the Department’s approval.
There can be no doubt that the forcible attempt, under pretense of collecting taxes, to enter Mr. Angel’s house by battering down his door was unlawful under Turkish law and under our treaty stipulations with the Ottoman Porte. The protocol of August 11, 1874, respecting the right of foreigners to hold real estate in the Ottoman Empire proclaims that—
The residence of foreigners is inviolable * * * in conformity with the treaties, and the agents of the public force can not enter it without the assistance of the consul or of the delegate of the consul of the power on which the foreigner depends.
Even, therefore, had the proceedings for the collection of unpaid taxes from Angel followed due course of suit and a judgment been reached by levying upon his property for its satisfaction, it could not have been executed on the premises without the intervention of the consul.
There appears, however, to have been no warrant of law at any stage of the proceedings against Mr. Angel, and therefore the outrage committed in the attempt to break into his residence is a serious breach of treaty rights, for which due atonement should be sought.
The arrest of Mr. Angel by the soldiery did not take place until some time after the attack upon his house. It would seem to be asserted that he was arrested, not as a tax delinquent, but for using abusive language and threats of armed resistance to the authorities and for drawing a revolver. From the somewhat conflicting statements before the Department it is not clear whether these acts are charged against Mr. Angel at the time of the attempt to break into his house or at the time of his subsequent arrest. It is not evident how he could have resisted arrest in the manner stated, unless the arrest were attempted for some other cause. But, inasmuch as lawful arrest for any cause requires the intervention of the consul to afford it, the arrest of Mr. Angel by the soldiery was as unlawful as the attack on his premises, and it matters little when he may have resisted, by speech or deed, the unlawful acts of the authorities towards him. In either case the course of the authorities towards Mr. Angel originated in wrongdoing and was violative of treaty rights.
There seems to be no allegation whatever to justify the arrest and maltreatment of Mr. Kanstoroom. No precedent proceedings against him or allegation of resistance on his part to the authority of law [Page 758] appear. That he was wrongfully seized by force for alleged tax delinquency appears to be uncontroverted.
It is not doubted that, with your usual prudence, you will await full ascertainment of the facts of these cases before taking definite action; but I must say that very positive evidence to offset the facts so far known will be needed to exempt the Turkish authorities from a just demand for reparation.
Whether, in fact, Messrs. Angel and Kanstoroom are liable for unpaid taxes on real property is another matter, to follow its due course according to treaty and law. In this relation reference may be made to Mr. Gillman’s letter of November 29, 1889, addressed to the governor, Rechad Pasha, and in particular to his claim that Mr. Angel’s case is properly triable before the consular court. The “two bills of summons” in Angel’s name are not before the Department, and it is not known whether the proceedings were criminal or for nonpayment of taxes. If the latter, the protocol of 1874 determines the subjection of the foreign holder of real property to the operation of the Turkish law, and prescribes the course of proceedings with due intervention of the delinquent’s consul. This presumed, however, that the summons was in fact issued on the criminal charge above referred to, and in that case Mr. Gillman may be upheld in denying any Turkish claim of exclusive jurisdiction.
I am, etc.,