841.711/2791: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy)

1448. The Department is receiving numerous complaints concerning the censorship by the British authorities of American mails including [Page 268] diplomatic and consular mails. Among the latter class of complaints are the following:

From the Treasury Department transmitting an envelope bearing following return address: “Department of State, U. S. A., Official Business (American Consular Service), Madras, India”, and addressed as follows: “To the Collector of Customs, at Philadelphia, Pa., United States of America. (Triplicate copies of invoices).” This envelope bears the stamp of the British censor at Madras showing that it was opened and re-sealed by him.
Despatch from the American Consul General at Frankfort on the Main, Germany, transmitting two envelopes and a post card addressed to him in his official capacity, all intercepted by the British censor, the two envelopes showing that they had been opened and re-sealed.
A despatch from the American Consul at Bremen, Germany, transmitting five envelopes addressed to the Consulate or to the Consul and Vice Consul, all in their official capacities, each of which bears evidence of having been opened and re-sealed by the British censor.
Despatch from the American Minister at Athens reporting the censorship by British authorities of a communication addressed to the Minister personally. In this latter case the Minister discussed the matter orally with his British colleague who, after discussing the matter with his Government, advised the American Minister that he had been instructed “to express the sincere regret of His Majesty’s Government at this unfortunate mistake”.

These incidents involving improper censorship by the British authorities apparently in London or Gibraltar and other parts of the British Empire seem to suggest the necessity of general instructions to British censorship officials directing them to desist from further interference with American diplomatic and consular mails. Please make such a request to the British Foreign Office and advise the Department promptly of the results thereof.