The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Received 5:35 p.m.]
2630. Your 1304, October 25, noon. We inquired as to the status of the deliberations over the protest filed with the Foreign Office by our note of October 26. We are informed that a decision has not yet been taken. It appears that the competent French authorities do not agree with our proposition that the action of the French is violative of the precepts of Article No. 1 of the Eleventh Hague Convention of 1907. They mention that the steamship Excambion in this instance submitted voluntarily to French jurisdiction by entering the port of Marseille. Having done so the vessel cannot be said to have been on the high seas at the time of the seizure and examination of the mails on board.
In discussing the matter informally the Foreign Office also suggests that it would appear that our Government has supported a different point of view in that respect in instances involving the same principle. They mention in passing instances of search and seizure under our former prohibition law.
The foregoing informal comment is supplied to indicate that the matter is under active discussion. The official added that whatever decision might be reached on the juridical question involved a lenient policy toward American shipping would certainly be adopted. Both the French and British authorities, according to the Foreign Office, are concerned over the transmission of illicit enemy material and propaganda matter via the international mails. It is pointed out that in the present instance the sacks examined included 45 emanating from Prague.