Mr. Riddle to Mr. Gresham.

No. 234.]

Sir: In accordance with your instruction No. 167, of March 30, I have communicated to the minister for foreign affairs the view of the United States Government that “the order for the deportation of Mrs. Toprahanian and her children, at Alexandretta, was uncalled for and harsh;” that as she was on her way to the United States when detained, “the Turkish Government should have been content with withdrawing the order of detention.”

The minister for foreign affairs said, in reply, that the Turkish Government had always considered the Toprahanians as Turkish subjects; that he, personally, had been in favor of allowing them to continue their journey without delay, but that, as the Sultan had been informed of the case, direct from Alexandretta, the Porte did not dare to issue orders.

I also took occasion, during the conversation, to repeat to him the views of the United States Government on the same general question of exclusion and expulsion, as expressed in your instruction No. 161,1 of March 29, stating that the United States, in conceding to the Ottoman Government the right to exclude naturalized Armenians who returned to Turkey did not admit the right of the Turks to arrest or imprison them, or to cause their detention—except such detention as might “be fairly incident to the exclusion or deportation of such persons—when directed to the single purpose of preventing their sojourn in the Ottoman Empire.”

The minister for foreign affairs answered that he had already heard precisely the same views from Mr. Terrell, but he did not vouchsafe any comments on them. In view of his remark already referred to [Page 776]that the Turkish Government had always considered the Toprahanians as Turkish subjects, it would seem that the Sultan’s ministers at the Porte are disposed to claim as Turks those naturalized Armenians whom it is their wish to detain, and to pass over in silence the American nationality of those whom they are willing to allow to depart from the Ottoman Empire.

I have, etc.,

J. W. Riddle,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.