Mr. Tavel to Mr. Foster.
Washington, July 28, 1892. (Received July 29.)
Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honor to have recourse to your excellency’s mediation, submitting to you the following facts:
During an excursion to Bay Ridge, Md., Dr. Georg, attaché of this legation, was arrested by the police under circumstances which give to this arrest a character of some gravity.
Mr. Georg, while taking some refreshment at a counter, with other persons, observed that a gentleman and lady, who had likewise taken refreshments, were looking for something on the counter and on the floor. He asked what had been lost, and was told that it was a pocket-book, which he assisted in looking for, but without success.
Ten minutes afterwards, while Dr. Georg was walking near the casino, he was accosted by two policemen, who charged him with having taken Mrs. X’s pocket-book, and demanded its return. He stated that he was not the person who was wanted, and that Mrs. X was mistaken, whereupon he was allowed to depart, after having told the policemen that he was secretary of the Swiss legation at Washington, D. C., and did not wish to be put to any further trouble.
Perceiving Mr. and Mrs. X, he attempted to make himself known, but was obliged to withdraw, owing to the attitude of Mrs. X, who persisted in accusing him. He was then joined by the policeman who had first spoken to him, who seized him by the arm, telling him that he was under arrest. Dr. Georg repeated in vain that no one had a right to arrest him, and asked to be identified by the undersigned, who was close by, in the casino. This was positively refused. He was, moreover, not allowed to telegraph to the Department of State at Washington, on pretense that there was no time to wait. He was taken to a distance of 300 meters, to a little house, where he got into a car with Mr. and Mrs. X and the policeman. Before the departure of the train, and since the policeman again refused to take him to the telegraph office, Dr. Georg wrote and delivered to an unknown person for transmission the following dispatch:
Department of State, Washington, D. C.
Have been arrested without cause, though I stated to be a member of the Swiss Legation. Please send orders to Annapolis.
This dispatch was read to the bearer in the presence of the policeman, but was not sent by the unknown person.[Page 522]
An hour later the train reached Annapolis. Here Dr. Georg was taken to the office of the commissioner, where he expected to be examined. As he was not examined, he told the commissioner that he had telegraphed to the Department of State, whose orders would soon arrive. Nevertheless, and in spite of his earnest protests, he was searched, and the contents of his pockets (papers and money) were taken out by a policeman.
As the pocketbook was not found the commissioner, having asked Dr. Georg his name, informed him that he could not hold him on mere suspicion.
Dr. Georg asked that his protests and statements might be taken down in writing, and that the name and full address of the complainants might be given him. The commissioner contented himself with giving Dr. Georg the name of “Mrs. Borde, Baltimore,” and said that, as to the rest, he knew what it was proper for him to do.
Having no other way to return to Washington, Dr. Georg was obliged to get into the same car by which he had come, together with the same persons, and return to Washington by the last train.
The undersigned did not learn what had taken place until after Dr. Georg’s return to Bay Ridge.
I do not doubt, Mr. Secretary of State, that, in view of this incident, you will think proper to order a strict inquiry with regard to the facts above stated, from which it appears that a Swiss diplomatic officer, accredited to the United States Government, has been arrested on mere suspicion, detained, and searched, no regard having been paid to his diplomatic capacity, and he not having been allowed to inform your excellency’s Government of what was going on.
Before bringing this incident to the notice of my Government, I desire to protest without further delay against acts that were so palpably in violation of the treaty of friendship and reciprocal establishments which has been concluded by the Swiss Confederation with the United States.
I feel fully confident that your excellency, recognizing the justice of my complaint, will speedily send me an expression of your regret at what has been done to a member of this legation, and that you will wish to order, in the case of such of your agents as may be found guilty, such disciplinary measures as may be called for by the facts.
Be pleased to accept, Mr. Secretary of State, the assurances of my highest consideration.