365.112Eagan, Edward P. et al.

The Ambassador in Italy ( Fletcher ) to the Secretary of State

No. 965

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a translation of a personal letter from the Italian Undersecretary of State to me,4 enclosing an Aide Memoire, intended as a reply to my representations to the Italian Government, based on an Aide Memoire of which a copy is enclosed, in the case of the arrest of the American boys … at Naples on October 16, 1925.

[Page 441]

The reply of the Foreign Office was handed to the Counselor of this Embassy on the 18th, instant, by Undersecretary of State, Grandi, who explained to Mr. Robbins that he was delivering the Note to him personally in order that his action might be more friendly and informal. The Undersecretary declared that the police authorities at Naples had been reprimanded for not notifying the Consul General of the arrest of the three Americans, but that this fact had not been mentioned in the enclosure with his personal letter. He added that the omission of this statement was owing to the fact that, according to the Consular Convention between the United States and Italy,5 the Italian authorities were in no way obligated to make such reports, although in the past it had been customary to do so.

The Counselor emphasized again the hardships suffered by the young men through the stupidity of the police authorities, and said that one could readily understand that three young men in good standing, who were on their way around the world, could scarcely be anything but humiliated and disappointed at being taken off a passenger ship on which they were about to embark for Egypt and India. He pointed out also that had the police authorities taken the trouble to communicate immediately with the American Consul General the mistake and arrest would in all probability not have occurred.

I have [etc.]

For the Ambassador:
Warren D. Robbins

Counselor of Embassy
[Enclosure 1]

The American Ambassador ( Fletcher ) to the Italian Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ( Grandi )


Reference is made to the detention last September of the three American citizens … by the local authorities at Naples upon suspicion that they had been implicated in a theft of jewelry in Rome.

In its Notes No. 277 of October 1 [21], 1925, and No. 444 of April 10, 1926,6 the Embassy pointed out that no opportunity had been given the prisoners to communicate with the American Consul General at Naples, one of them having been actually restrained by force from telephoning to the Consulate General, and that the Italian [Page 442] authorities at Naples failed to inform the Consul General of the detention of his compatriots until after they had been released and had reported in person at his office.

Having duly communicated to the American Government the text of the Notes of the Foreign Office, dated December 21, 1925, and May 25, 1926,6a the Embassy has now been informed that its Government cannot accept the declarations of the Italian Government, contained in these Notes, on this point as satisfactorily disposing of the matter.

The Embassy is instructed, therefore, again to emphasize the fact that the authorities at Naples not only refused to permit the prisoners to communicate with the Consul General but failed to inform him of their detention until after they had been released and had reported in person at his office. Hence, the American Government feels that the assurances asked in the Embassy’s Note No. 444 of April 10, 1926,7 are not excessive, and hopes that, as a result of the present representations, the Italian Government will agree that apologies from the local authorities at Naples to the three Americans and to the American Consul General there are in order, and that the Italian Government will see fit to issue specific instructions designed to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.

[Enclosure 2—Translation]

The Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Grandi ) to the American Ambassador ( Fletcher )


The Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs has duly considered the contents of the Aide Memoire transmitted by the Embassy of the United States of America under date of July 8th last, relative to the detention in Naples of the American citizens … with the greatest attention, with a most friendly spirit, and with the intention of adhering as much as possible to the desire of the Government at Washington. The Royal Ministry, however, is compelled to confirm its conclusions contained in its Note Verbale No. 221055 of May 25th last.7

But, inasmuch as the United States Government believes that it cannot accept such conclusions and insists that the Italian authorities in Naples not only prevented the persons detained from communicating with their Consul, but that said authorities abstained from informing him directly regarding the facts during the period of [Page 443] detention, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must draw the courteous attention of the United States Embassy to the following considerations, with the request that the Embassy appeal to the spirit of well-known equity of its Government at Washington:

The authorities in Naples were under no obligation, during the time the investigations were being conducted by the judicial authorities, to inform the Consul of the United States of the detention in question, neither because of existing treaties between Italy and the United States, nor by virtue of international usages.
For the same reasons, they were under no obligation to allow the detained persons to telephone, and it is obvious that prisoners must be prevented [restrained?] by force.
The authorities in Naples did not intend, through their attitude, to offend the Consul General of the United States, to whom they did not fail, as a mark of courtesy, to communicate the occurrence as soon as … were liberated; and it is evident that, by their mode of procedure, the Italian authorities did not intend in the least to offend the aforementioned persons, but simply to assure to the police authorities the authors of a theft committed to the detriment of an American citizen.

  1. Letter not printed.
  2. Consular convention concluded May 8, 1878, and supplemental convention concluded Feb. 24, 1881; see Malloy, Treaties, 1776–1909, vol. i, pp. 977 and 983.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. Neither printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.