862.20235/1–1246

The Chargé in Argentina ( Cabot ) to the Secretary of State

confidential
No. 1763

Sir: I have the honor to report that on December 24, 1945 Federal Judge Fox ordered the conditional release of fifteen Axis espionage agents being held in “preventative” imprisonment under court order. These 15 were part of the list of 16 individuals listed in the Embassy’s despatch no. 1232 of November 2, 1945.8 The sixteenth, Melita Tietz Schrotter, still is being held pending the disposition of extradition proceedings initiated by the Chilean Government. It is understood, however, that those proceedings have been cancelled and soon will be dropped. It is believed that this person will also be released by the Court.

An officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confidentially informed this Embassy that Judge Fox proposed to release these agents without notice to the Executive Power in order that they could go into hiding and thus embarrass the Argentine Government for not fulfilling its commitments under Resolution VII of the Mexico City Conference9 by the continued detention and the deportation of all such agents. This is probably a somewhat fanciful explanation, but it is the only one available at the moment. Before the prisoners could actually be released, however, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Police arranged for their continued detention at the disposal of the Executive Power under the authority of the State of Siege Act. This information has not yet been released to the press. The decree ordering this arbitrary continued detention probably was dated on December 24, but is understood not to have received all the necessary signatures until at least a week later, an obvious violation of civil rights and perhaps an action in contempt of court.

A recent decision of the Argentine Supreme Court is of considerable importance with respect to the deportation and repatriation program for Axis espionage agents and dangerous German nationals from Argentina. On December 27, 1945 the Supreme Court confirmed a decision of a lower court in rejecting a plea for writs of habeas corpus for fourteen suspected Axis agents (reference despatch no. 1523 of December 8, 194510). The Supreme Court ruled that the Government, under the State of Siege Act, has the right to arrest and detain indefinitely anyone suspected of endangering public order or tranquillity. [Page 186] (Reference Military Attaché report R–826–45 of December 29, 1945; and Legal Attaché report of January 3, 1946).11

Another Argentine court, also about December 27, 1945, refused to consider a petition for a writ of habeas corpus for José Enrique Arzac Moya. The judge stated that the Government is justified in the arrest and expulsion from the country of foreigners suspected of action harmful to the country or to the security of the American Continent, and referred to Resolution VII of the Final Act of the Mexico City Conference. (Reference Military Attaché report R–826–45 of December 29, 1945.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Respectfully yours,

John M. Cabot
  1. See Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ix, p. 487.
  2. For text, see Pan American Union, Final Act of the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace, Mexico City, February–March, 1945 (Washington, 1945), p. 38.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Neither printed.