740.00116 European War/9–3044: Telegram

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

3033. Portuguese Foreign Office late this afternoon presented a lengthy memorandum on position of Portuguese Government concerning granting of asylum to war criminals. Identical memorandum was presented to the British.

Memorandum states that Portuguese Government does not yet wish to make a public statement on war criminals question. Argument set forth this document takes the line that there is as yet no clear definition of a war criminal and points out that the possibility of injustice exists in confusing criminals whose acts are repugnant to all sentiments of justice with individuals whose only crime is to have taken part in governments which were considered legitimate.

Memorandum emphasizes the sovereign right of a state to decide itself on the question of asylum and proposes that entire question be settled by an international or multilateral decision and that an international jurisdiction be created whose competence for ruling on these matters be recognized by all states which adhere to the statute of its formation. Memorandum contains no commitment on behalf of the Portuguese Government to adhere to the proposed international body.

Unless Department instructs the Embassy to cable the full text, a translation of memorandum,61 which bears definite indications of having been drawn up by Salazar personally, will be transmitted by airmail pouch leaving Monday.

  1. Not printed.