740.00116 EW/8–2644: Telegram

The Ambassador in Portugal ( Norweb ) to the Secretary of State

2639. In a conversation with Sampayo9 yesterday the British Ambassador10 with whom I had previously discussed the matter took the occasion to sound him out on the Portuguese attitude as regards asylum for war criminals. Campbell raised the question largely by analogy couching his warning in terms of what would happen to [Page 1413] Switzerland if that country permitted such persons to seek haven there. Switzerland would have about 40 nations “barking at her gates” and demanding that these persons be given up.

Sampayo did not give any indication of what the Portuguese Government position on this matter would be, confining himself to the comment that it was very difficult to obtain permission to reside in Portugal, all applicants being closely scrutinized in advance. He said that a transit visa was moderately easy to get but this implied that the applicant would be moving on with the least possible delay.

The international police we know independently considers that aside from air travel we have means of preventing the escape of war criminals through our frontier controls.

It is my intention to explore this whole subject with Salazar11 in the interview which I have requested as I have some reservation about his attitude in the light of his efforts to establish Portugal’s humanitarian record during this war. Another consideration is the absence of the capital penalty in this country which is applied to the extent that notwithstanding the existence of a treaty with Spain regarding deserters Portugal has returned no deserters without assurances that they would not be executed.

  1. L. Teixeira de Sampaio, Secretary General, Portuguese Foreign Office.
  2. Sir Ronald Hugh Campbell.
  3. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, Portuguese Prime Minister, Provisional Minister of War and of Foreign Affairs.