130 Hagiperos, Vasilios

Memorandum by the Assistant to the Legal Adviser (Flournoy)

It appears that Vasilios Hagiperos was born in Smyrna, Turkey, May 15, 1888, immigrated to the United States in July, 1912, obtained [Page 316] naturalization as a citizen of the United States, November 18, 1922, and went to Greece in May, 1933, with a passport, No. 144418, issued by the Department, May 8, 1933. In the application upon which the passport just mentioned was issued, he alleged that he was going to Greece to “visit relatives” and intended to return to the United States within two years.

In the application of May 24, 1935, before the Vice Consul at Athens, Greece, for the renewal of his passport, Mr. Hagiperos says that he came to Greece on account of his health and now desires to return to the United States to join his wife and child. From the statement of the Vice Consul at Athens on the reverse side of this application, it appears that Mr. Hagiperos became naturalized as a Greek citizen in September, 1934, by registering in accordance with the provision of Article 141 of Law 4324.20 In this connection the Vice Consul says:

“He did this for his own convenience because he knew that he would be required by the Greek Government to become naturalized as a Greek citizen before he might leave this country and he desired to be ready to leave the country without being delayed by formalities of this nature.”

With reference to the Greek law just mentioned, the Vice Consul calls attention to his report in the case of Constantine Condos, in which the Department held, in an instruction of February 26, 1935,21 that the person last mentioned had expatriated himself, since it appeared from his affidavit that he had voluntarily acquired Greek nationality, by registering under the law mentioned. With reference to the instant case, however, the Vice Consul says:

“This provision of law provides for the delayed naturalization as Greek citizens of exchangeable persons born in Turkey. Such naturalization often occurs under circumstances amounting to duress but it does not appear that duress actually existed at the time when Mr. Hagiperos became naturalized as a Greek citizen.”

Some time ago I expressed the opinion, with reference to the cases of certain naturalized citizens of the United States who had acquired Rumanian nationality, as a result of the transfer of the territory in which they were born to Rumania, that they should not be regarded as having lost their American nationality, under the provision of the first paragraph of Section 2 of the Act of March 2, 1907,22 by obtaining naturalization in a foreign state, unless their Rumanian nationality had been acquired through a voluntary act on their part. It followed that the minor children of such persons also should not be regarded as having been expatriated through the naturalization of their parents without any voluntary act on the part of the latter.

[Page 317]

The Department’s instruction of October 16, 1935, to the Consul General at Bucharest23 concerning the case of Lucretia Russ was in accord with this rule.

The rule just mentioned seems entirely reasonable, but there may be some difficulty in determining its application in particular cases. The case of Vasilios Hagiperos illustrates this. The question is, whether his action in registering as a Greek citizen under the law mentioned in September, 1934, may properly be regarded as voluntary, so that his passport may be renewed, to enable him to return to the United States, notwithstanding the opinion of the Vice Consul that it was not voluntary. After some hesitation, I have initialed the attached instruction,24 in which the view is expressed that his registration may be regarded as involuntary, because he knew that unless he registered he would not be allowed to leave Greece. In other words, the conclusion has been reached that the fact that he registered some months before he was actually ready to leave Greece is not sufficient to justify the Department in holding that such registration was not made in order that he might be able to leave Greece. The facts in his case, especially the fact that he left his wife and child in the United States when he went to Greece, indicate that he went for a temporary visit, and there is nothing to show that he registered for the purpose of making it possible for him to reside indefinitely in Greece. The action of the Greek authorities in compelling naturalized American citizens of the class mentioned, temporarily residing or sojourning in Greece, to register as Greek nationals before they are allowed to leave Greece seems most unreasonable, and I have accordingly drafted the attached instruction to the Legation at Athens.25

R[ichard] W. F[lournoy]
  1. See translation of article 141 of law 4324, p. 320.
  2. Not printed.
  3. 34 Stat. 1228.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Post, p. 318.
  6. Infra.