Mr. Hay to Mr. Harris.
Washington , November 7, 1899 .
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 45, of September 30 last, stating that the Austrian authorities at Lemberg request you to turn over to them the papers on file in your legation relating to John Wilson’s passport in order that they may prosecute him under the Austrian law against fraud, the fraud in question consisting in Wilson’s having in his possession for use a document fraudulently obtained.
You request to be instructed in the matter.
In reply I have to say, as Wilson is in Austria it is impossible to try him in the United States under section 1750 of the Revised Statutes, to which you refer, or under any other section.
Perjury is not one of the offenses included in our extradition treaty with Austria, and even if it were, this Government could not demand his extradition for an offense committed in Paris or Vienna.
If a foreign court, in its endeavor to convict a person of the offense of possessing a psssport said to have been obtained by fraud, can adjudge whether the passport was rightly or fraudulently obtained, it could, in like manner, assume to pass upon the legality of an act of naturalization, an assumption that we have always strenuously contested.
In view of the aforegoing, I can not authorize you to assist the Austrian authorities in the prosecution of Wilson.
I am, etc.,