File No. 367.112 Er 4/8.


No. 289.]

Sir: I have the honor to state that after two visits to the Porte, where I saw the under secretary for foreign affairs, Rifaat Pasha not being able to receive me, last night I received a note from the Porte, a copy of which is herewith inclosed, and this morning had an interview with the minister for foreign affairs. I told him that I had received the note from the Porte last night and that I regretted to say that it was not satisfactory; that besides failing to explain the delay or to make any sort of apology or excuse for the expulsion of Mr. Erickson from Elbassan and his subsequent arrest at Monastir under such extraordinary circumstances, the reasons advanced against his return were too trivial to be considered seriously, and that therefore I must insist upon his immediate return to Elbassan. He replied that in view of the continued unsettled and abnormal condition of the country it would not be possible for him to go back there at the present time without running a very serious risk, for which they could not hold themselves responsible. I remarked that our private information led us to believe that the present situation there was quite peaceful and that I could not see how there would be danger for him in returning; that the explanation he made might have been good two months ago, but now that martial law had been abandoned in that Province it was natural to suppose that the authorities had ceased to think it necessary. I went on to say that my Government could not comprehend why the Porte [Page 744] had made no formal reply to my repeated representations; that it seemed to me the Porte was disposed to treat the whole matter as one of little consequence, while to my Government the question of the personal liberty of its citizens and their rights under the treaties in force was one of the greatest importance. He replied that that was far from being the case; that he had given us repeated verbal assurances that the matter was receiving attention, and then exclaimed somewhat irrelevantly: “Who ordered his expulsion?” to which I replied that his excellency should know better than I, but that as it was conducted by a military force, I supposed it to be by the commanding officer of the district. He said that had not been proved, as we only had Mr. Erickson’s word for it; to which I replied that the fact of his expulsion was known to everybody, and that even if we had only his wife’s word for it and their physical sufferings resulting therefrom as evidence, it had never been questioned by the Turkish authorities, though they had had two months to get up their case. He then repeated that they would investigate the circumstances of his arrest at Monastir but his return to Elbassan was impossible in the present state of affairs as reported by the local authorities, whose views he was bound to accept, and that he did not think our Government ought to oppose that decision; he was sure that if this was properly explained they would not still insist. I replied that I should certainly report what he said, but that meanwhile my instructions were to insist upon Mr. Erickson’s return. I then handed him the note I had prepared in answer to that of the Porte, a copy of which is herewith inclosed. After reading it he said if Mr. Erickson went back it would be at his own risk; that he might be killed, and the Government could not take responsibility; to which I remarked that if anything like that happened, it could only be through the military authorities, as at Elbassan, where he was universally respected, no one else would have any reason to molest him, and that when he did go back Ave should expect him to be protected by the Vali or the military authorities. And there the matter rested.

Upon returning to the embassy I wrote this down, and subsequently sent you my telegram or this day above mentioned. Mr. Erickson is lunching with me to-morrow, and when I saw him yesterday he expected to leave for Elbassan on Tuesday, and I was anxious to have the Department’s advice as to whether I should persuade him not to go in view of the representations of Rifaat Pasha. Mr. Erickson himself thinks there will be no danger. For this reason I am of the opinion that the Government does not wish to lose face with the military authorities by permitting him to return, and they are using the argument of the unrest there hoping that we will be intimidated; certainly Hakki Pasha, in his statement in the Parliament yesterday, declared to the whole world that order had been absolutely established in that part of the Empire.

I have, etc.,

John Ridgely Carter.
[Page 745]
[Inclosure 1.]

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the American Embassy.

No. 4929/56.

The imperial ministry has had the honor to receive the note verbale of September 28 last, No. 133, in which the embassy of the United States of America insists again upon the return of Mr. Erickson to Elbassan.

Referring to the communications made verbally upon this subject, the imperial ministry begs the American Embassy to kindly take into consideration that if the return of Mr. Erickson is not possible at this moment it is because of an abnormal and exceptional situation resulting from events that are independent of the will of the Imperial Government.

In making therefore all reserves with regard to the possibility of a question of damages, the imperial ministry relies upon the spirit of equity of the embassy of the Republic to point out to its Government the extraordinary circumstances which still oppose Mr. Erickson’s stay at Elbassan, and that there is no question, therefore, of a violation made deliberately against the rights of this American citizen.

[Inclosure 2.]

The American Embassy to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

No. 139.]

The American Embassy has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note verbale of the Sublime Porte No. 4929/56 of the 3d instant, relating to the case of Mr. Telford Erickson.

This embassy notes with surprise that after a delay of more than two months there should be no excuse made nor any reason given for the unjustifiable expulsion of Mr. Erickson from Elbassan nor yet any reference to his subsequent unwarranted arrest and imprisonment at Monastir.

Does the note of the Sublime Porte mean to infer that order is not established at Elbassan? In that case it should have been explained why the martial court has been withdrawn.

This embassy would have been glad to know specifically what the nature of the extraordinary reasons may be which prevent Mr. Erickson’s sojourn there, the suggestion made in the note verbale being too vague to be taken into serious consideration.

This embassy can not admit the theory put forward that a deliberate act committed by one of the responsible officers of the Imperial Government is not the act of the Government itself.

Therefore under these circumstances this embassy must insist, while reserving all questions of damages, that no impediment be interposed upon Mr. Erickson’s immediate return to Elbassan.