Minister Leishman to the Secretary of State.
Constantinople, October 20, 1905.
Sir: Referring further to my several dispatches regarding Charles Vartanian and Hovhanes Afarian, two naturalized citizens of Ottoman origin arrested by the Turkish police for the murder of a rich Armenian merchant at Constantinople who had refused to contribute money for the revolutionary movement, I beg to inclose a clipping from to-day’s issue of the Levant Herald, showing that despite our protests and the promises of the imperial minister for foreign affairs that all proceedings would be stayed the above-mentioned men were taken to the criminal court at Stamboul yesterday, where they were tried and condemned, the former, who was the principal, to death, and the latter, as an accomplice, to fifteen years’ imprisonment at hard labor.
No doubt exists as to the guilt of the men, and they richly deserve the punishment to which they have been condemned, but this does not dispose of the important question of principle which the case involves, and unless the government is prepared to practically abandon its right to protect American citizens of Ottoman origin who return to Turkey it seems to me that under all the circumstances the demand for their surrender to the custody of the consulate must be insisted upon, even if in order to enforce the demand it should be found necessary to adopt extreme measures.
As this matter has already been fully explained in my previous dispatches, it is scarcely necessary for me at this time to enter into further details, and pending the receipt of the Department’s instructions [Page 895] asked for in my dispatch No. 1160 of September 13, I have not felt warranted in taking any more aggressive action than the filing of a formal protest.
I have, etc.,