251.11 Insull, Samuel/251

The Minister in Greece (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State

No. 39

Sir: I have the honor to report that in compliance with the Department’s urgent telegram No. 55 of November 4, 11 a.m.,40 I presented its contents to the Hellenic Government as directed, thus conveying formal notice of the denunciation of the extradition treaty. A copy of my note No. F. O. 263/33 is enclosed herewith.

I also enclose a copy of a translation of the Foreign Minister’s note in reply, the substance of which I communicated to the Department by my telegram No. 114 of November 9, 10 p.m.40

Respectfully yours,

Lincoln MacVeagh
[Enclosure 1]

The American Minister (MacVeagh) to the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs (Maximos)

F.O. No. 263/33

Excellency: I am instructed to inform Your Excellency that the United States Government has learned with astonishment that the Greek authorities have again declined to honor the request of the United States for the extradition of Samuel Insull, a fugitive from American justice.

[Page 566]

My Government finds it difficult to reconcile this unusual decision with the admission of the competent authorities that the fugitive committed the acts with which he was charged and that these acts are illegal and fraudulent both in the United States and in Greece. Without going into details of the decision it is generally believed that the authorities attempted actually to try the case instead of confining themselves to ascertaining whether the evidence submitted by the United States Government was sufficient to justify the fugitive’s apprehension and commitment for trial. There can be no doubt that the question of criminal intent referred to by the Hellenic Court would be fairly and judiciously passed upon by the courts in the United States. I am directed to add that my Government considers the decision utterly untenable and a clear violation of the American-Hellenic treaty of extradition signed at Athens May 6th, 1931.

Inasmuch as the Greek authorities have now seen fit on two occasions to deny the just requests of the United States made under the provisions of the above mentioned treaty, it is apparent that this treaty, although similar in terms to treaties which the United States has found effective in extraditing fugitives from other countries, cannot be relied upon to effect the extradition of fugitives who have fled to Greece. My Government therefore considers that from the American point of view the treaty is entirely useless. Accordingly I am instructed to give formal notice herewith of my Government’s denunciation of the treaty with a view to its termination at the earliest date possible under its pertinent provisions.41

I avail myself [etc.]

Lincoln MacVeagh
[Enclosure 2–Translation]

The Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs (Maximos) to the American Minister (MacVeagh)

No. 46071/1/8

Mr. Minister: By your note of the 5th instant, No. 263/33, you have informed me that, in consequence of the decision handed down by the Court of Appeals of Athens in the Insull case, the Government, of the United States has judged it expedient to denounce the treaty of extradition signed May 6, 1931, with a view to its termination at the earliest date possible under its pertinent provisions.

In taking cognizance of your communication I think it is my duty to point out that it was in virtue of an express provision of the treaty in question that the Court of Appeals entered into the examination of the [Page 567] substance of the case. Indeed, by an exception to the principle usually underlying conventions of this nature, the treaty of extradition of the 6th of May, 1931 contains in its first article the following clause, due to a suggestion made by the Government of the United States during the negotiations:

“Provided that such surrender shall take place only upon such evidence of criminality, as according to the laws of the place where the fugitive or person so charged shall be found, would justify his apprehension and commitment for trial if the crime or offense has been there committed.”

It is pertinent to point out that all the extradition treaties concluded by Greece, except that with Great Britain, are based on the exactly contrary principle, namely that it is not permissible for the Court considering the request for extradition to inquire into the basis of the charges preferred against the defendant. The adoption of such a system obviously facilitates the task of the authorities charged with deciding on requests for extradition, and it is noteworthy that its use in Greece over a considerable period of time has not yet given rise to any serious difficulties.

I earnestly hope, Mr. Minister that the foregoing explanation will throw some light upon this matter and will help to clear up a misunderstanding which cannot but cause the Hellenic Government the most sincere regrets.

Please accept [etc.]

D. Maximos
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The American Government’s notice of abrogation of the treaty was ultimately withdrawn by a note dated September 30, 1937.