800.01B11 Registration—Bookniga Corporation/37: Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt)
311. Your 1117, December 20, 5 p.m. You may inform the Foreign Office that:
- The Bookniga Corporation appears to have engaged in activities of a character which require registration under existing federal legislation. Although the requirement of registration was brought to the attention of the corporation on several occasions, it nevertheless failed to register. On December 19th the President of the Bookniga Corporation pleaded guilty to charges that he failed to register the corporation as a foreign agent.77
- Corporations or agents engaged only in activities in furtherance of bona fide trade or commerce within the meaning of the registration act are not subject to the requirement of registration. If the Amtorg Trading Corporation, as it has informed the Department, is engaged only in activities of this kind, it is not subject to the requirements of that law.
- The law is being applied without discrimination. This Government, however, cannot accept even to a remote degree the implication that the prosecution of any person or firm for violation of a law of the United States can be regarded as persecution.
You might unofficially and informally intimate that the Government was impressed with the offensive tone of the memorandum. No prosecution is motivated by the fact that the defendants have Soviet connections. On the other hand, no prosecution for an actual violation of law would be withheld or delayed through any fear lest it be construed as “persecution”, merely because the defendants may have such connections.
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Bookniga Incorporated, which was apparently established to assume the functions of the Bookniga Corporation subsequent to the dissolution of the latter corporation on April 6, 1939, registered pursuant to applicable legislation on June 21, 1939, and the Department has not therefore had occasion to refer the names of Bookniga Incorporated or of any of its officers to the Department of Justice for investigation. Had the Bookniga Corporation complied with applicable legislation, no action would have been taken against it.
- Morris Liskin admitted being a foreign agent, but denied charges of conspiracy, etc.↩