340.1115/8–1045: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State

2844. No answer yet received to Embassy’s note to FonOff of July 27 written in accordance with Dept’s 1659, July 21 re detention American citizen Jan Czechel. As explained in Embtel 2333, June 29, this is clear-cut case of Soviet’s preventing American citizen returning to United States and refusing to correspond with us about his case. Since January, Embassy has written five notes on subject without receiving any reply except routine acknowledgment on [of] [Page 1155]first note saying matter was “under study”. In note of July 27 we stated we were protesting Soviet lack of action on direct instructions from US Govt.

If this Embassy is to enjoy any respect with Soviet authorities in its efforts to protect American citizens in areas under Russian control it is essential that we now take some action to make Soviets feel our displeasure. I recommend I be authorized to have facts of this case made available to local American newspapermen. If reporters’ stories are not allowed to be filed from here then Dept should release story to American press.69

The countless delays and contradictions which are experienced both by Embassy and by resident American citizens in attempting to obtain from Russian officialdom rulings on status of possible dual nationals and to conquer labyrinth of red tape before receiving exit visas are an expression of the arrogance of Soviet secret police, who control these matters, and of their confidence that the American individuals and lower officials concerned will never really have the backing of higher levels of our Govt in these obscure and disheartening battles. In the past circumstances have generally proved them right. If we ever mean to establish the position that our people and our representatives must be treated with respect in these matters, this is a good case with which to begin.

  1. In its telegram 1982, September 8, 5 p.m., the Department authorized the Embassy in Moscow to release to American correspondents the facts in the Jan Czechel case provided there had been no subsequent evidence of Soviet willingness to permit his return to the United States (340.1115/8–1045).