The Chargé in Iran (Merriam) to the Secretary of State

No. 1003

Sir: I have the honor to acquaint the Department with further developments concerning the delivery of second-class mail matter in Iran. The situation is very confused at the moment, but an attempt will be made to give as accurate an account of it as now seems possible.

Speaking by and large, the Legations at Teheran have received but little mail if any of this kind since early in January, and what has been received gives evidences of having been opened and censored. Until recently nothing came through at all, but no one was especially concerned because the passes to the west and to some extent to the north were blocked for several weeks. As soon as the roads were reopened, however, it soon became obvious that some other explanation was required.

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It so happened that the post office was choked with mail which had just come in from the passes at the time of the death of Davar, the Minister of Finance. It is possible, therefore, that the Shah desired to prevent the dissemination in this country of printed matter dealing with this occurrence. It is also possible that when the Shah became angry with the French owing to articles in the French press that were considered offensive, he recollected that he had had similar trouble with the American press and to some extent also with the Egyptian press, the British press, the Swedish press, the Iraqui press and, some years ago, with the German press, and decided that the western press was hopeless and that the only thing to do was to cut it off altogether.

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… At the same time, if the corps as a whole should prove to feel strongly about the question, it would be difficult for us not to go along in view of the fact that our provocation is greater than that of the other members: our mail matter has been held up for ten months, theirs a month and a half only.

The foregoing states the situation in its simplest terms: the prohibition against the delivery of second-class matter from the United States has been extended to that coming from all countries, except that some of it is delivered after being opened and censored.

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Respectfully yours,

Gordon P. Merriam