865.3311/56: Telegram

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

29. Press despatches indicate that Fascist newspapers are charging that the destruction of Pinedo’s plane was a deliberate act of sabotage committed by anti-Fascists, using as their basis certain portions of your reported message to Mussolini including the phrases “criminal folly” and “cowardly crime”.

Investigation reveals that the accident was caused by a lighted match carelessly dropped by an onlooker into oil-covered water surrounding the plane. Pinedo in an interview to the press states “In no way could the tragedy be connected with a plot against Fascism. It was purely an accident and I am sure my Government will regard it in no other light.” The Department is asking the Italian Ambassador to give official confirmation of this statement both here and in Italy.

Please endeavor to dispel any misapprehensions which may have arisen in Italy as to the nature of this deplorable accident. You may inform the Italian Government that all governmental facilities here will be given to enable Pinedo to resume his flight at the earliest possible moment, and the Italian Ambassador has been so informed.