Mr. Terrell to Mr. Gresham.

No. 546.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that Mr. Riddle has returned from Brusa and reported the result of his investigations there regarding the death of George Webber. I hope for more certain information regarding the treatment to which Webber was subjected. Moving further in the matter, I inclose for your information my instructions (copy) and copy of Mr. Riddle’s report.

I have, etc.,

A. W. Terrell.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 546.]

Mr. Terrell to Mr. Riddle.

Sir: You will proceed at once to Brusa and ascertain from the Americans residing there and from every other known source of information all facts connected with the imprisonment and death of George Webber, who is reported as having been a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Mr. Webber is reported as having died in prison at Brusa during the past winter. His passport was, according to admission of officers in this city, sent by the governor at Brusa to Constantinople, but has not been produced as yet, though requested.

You will confer with the American missionaries who have reported Mr. Webber as a naturalized American citizen, and ascertain how they know that fact.

You will especially seek to ascertain from the local authorities (if you have good reason to believe that Webber was entitled to the protection of this legation) what specific charges caused the arrest of Webber, and where he was arrested. You will also seek to ascertain why he was not brought to Constantinople, when placed on the railway terminating here, and whether his treatment was humane or otherwise while in custody. If his passport was seen by Americans, obtain a statement of the date thereof and its contents.

If on investigation you have reason to believe that Webber was a naturalized American citizen, whose death was caused by inhuman treatment while in custody, you will reduce to writing all important facts known to Americans or Christians, and cause the statements to be verified by oath before the consular agent of Great Britain.

You will, when practicable, take vouchers for your necessary expenses, which will be paid by me.

I am, etc.,

A. W. Terrell.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 546.]

Mr. Riddle to Mr. Terrell.

Sir: In accordance with your instructions, I have the honor to report herewith the facts I was able to ascertain in Brusa concerning the nationality, imprisonment, and death of George Webber.

[Page 1268]

Mr. Webber arrived at Brusa prison on the evening of March 28 and died there on the following morning. He was not seen alive by any American in Brusa or by Mr. Scholer, the British vice-consul; but the latter gentleman and Mr. Baldwin, an American missionary, were at once notified of his death by the Turkish authorities and took charge of his body. Mr. Webber was bearer of three documents—an American passport, a certificate of naturalization, and a Bavarian certificate of baptism. Mr. Scholer testifies to have seen all three, but he is unable to recall any of the details of the description in the passport. Mr. Baldwin says he saw only the certificate of naturalization, but that he is ready to swear it was issued at Bay City, Mich., in 1889. However, Mr. Webber’s nationality is not disputed by the Turkish authorities, as it was the vali of Brusa himself who gave me most information, and he admitted that Webber had a passport issued by the American legation in Constantinople, and that all the documents had been sent on to the ministry of police in Stamboul.

Of the place of Webber’s arrest and the earlier stages of his journey, the vali said he knew nothing beyond the fact that the arrest took place in the province of Koniah. When I asked whether any specific accusation had been made against Webber, the vali replied that there had been none; that he had been arrested as a suspicious person, because he had no ostensible reason for being in Asia Minor and could not satisfactorily explain his presence there. The only reason given for the interruption of Webber’s railway journey (his being taken on foot and in a wagon to Brusa, instead of continuing by railway to Scutari, opposite Constantinople) was the fact that Webber’s money had by that time been exhausted.

As to the character of the treatment which Webber received at the hands of the Turks, both Mr. Scholer and Mr. Baldwin state that no bruises or marks of violence of any sort were to be seen on his body, although they seem convinced that his death was due to his long and fatiguing journey, accompanied by we know not what privations.

I have, etc.,

J. W. Riddle.