Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs (Bohlen) to Mr. Raymund T. Tingling of the Office of the Legal Adviser

Mr. Yingling: I am sending you a letter from the Attorney General dated April 8 concerning the legal status of the Kravchenko case as well as a memorandum of a conversation which I had on April 17 with Mr. Bazykin of the Soviet Embassy.

Up to the present no official request has been received from the Soviet Embassy for the deportation of Kravchenko, and from the political point of view it would appear inadvisable for the Secretary on his own initiative to suggest that deportation proceedings be instituted against Kravchenko in view of the traditional American doctrine of the right of political asylum.10 However, since it is possible [Page 1228] that the Soviet Government may make such a request of this Government I would appreciate having a legal opinion on the law and precedent in such cases.

We have no extradition treaty with the Soviet Union11 nor any arrangement providing for the return of deserters from our respective armed forces.

Charles E. Bohlen
  1. In a later memorandum of May 10, 1944, the Office of the Legal Adviser pointed out that “Generally speaking, this Government does not recognize a so-called right of asylum.” (861.01B11/155)
  2. The Office of the Legal Adviser concluded that the United States had no extradition treaty with the Soviet Union, and that “extradition can only take place where there is a treaty between the United States and the requesting country.” Even so, “all the treaties and conventions on extradition to which the United States is a party contain provisions that extradition shall not take place when the offense is of a political nature.” The Extradition Convention of March 16/28, 1887, with Imperial Russia was not regarded by the Soviet Union as being in effect. Nevertheless, in article II of that treaty, desertion was not one of the offenses for which a person could be extradited; and furthermore, article III expressly prohibited extradition for “an offence of a political character.” The full text is printed in 28 Stat. 1071, and Department of State Treaty Series No. 305.