365.1121 Slavich, Nickola/14: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Italy ( Garrett )

118. Your 133, July 22, 10 a.m., and 134, July 22, 4 p.m.14 I am much concerned in regard to the recent series of apparently unjustified arrests of American citizens traveling in Italy.

Request an interview with Grandi. Make clear that you are acting under instructions from your Government. Attempt to obtain a dismissal of the case against Slavich. If that is impossible, insist that the case be brought to trial with the least possible delay and inform Grandi that the trial will be attended by a member of your staff or by a member of the staff of the Consulate General. In discussing the case with Grandi, make clear the attitude of American public opinion toward the arrest and prolonged incarceration of American citizens upon such charges as those made against Slavich and Tancredi, based upon the kind of evidence which appears from your telegram to have been accepted in these cases. The Department is informed that there already exists the conviction in certain circles that American citizens traveling on Italian ships are subjected to constant surveillance and that in some cases, they are egged on by the personnel of those ships [Page 630] to make remarks of a kind innocuous under American law, but apparently criminal under Italian law.

Make vigorous representations to Grandi in regard to the Italian regulations and the practices of the Italian authorities which hamper, delay, or prevent communication between American citizens arrested in Italy and American consular officers. Point out that these regulations and practices make it impossible for consuls “to defend the rights and interests of their countrymen” as provided for in Article IX of the Consular Convention of 1878 between the United States and Italy.15 Express the hope that the custom, which formerly obtained in Italy, of notifying consular officers immediately upon the arrest of American citizens will be adhered to in the future. (See instruction No. 651 of November 9, 1926).16 Invite Grandi’s attention to the cases of Slavich, Tancredi, Rossi, and others recently incarcerated for long periods without the knowledge of American consuls. (See Despatch from Consul, Milan, May 6, 1931).17 Insist that consular officers be permitted to visit and converse with American citizens incarcerated in Italy and that such visits be not delayed by unnecessary administrative procedure, and that such conversations be not hampered by the undesired presence of third parties. Cite instances from recent cases in which consuls have been prevented from carrying out their duties as specified in Article IX referred to above.

Report by telegram the result of your conversation with Grandi, and transmit full report by pouch, together with a copy of the note verbale which you will present on this occasion.

A friend of Slavich informs me that 14 others were arrested at the same time. Is this exact? If so, were any of them American citizens?

  1. Neither printed.
  2. Malloy, Treaties, 1776–1909, vol. i, p. 977.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1926, vol. ii, p. 443.
  4. Not printed.