The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union
207. Embtel 175 Jan. 24 and Embtel 45 Jan. 8.1 Attorney General Clark has advised Assistant Secretary Benton that Russian scientists and scholars visiting this country can be assured that they will not be required to register under terms of the Foreign Agents Registration Act provided they confine themselves exclusively to scientific, academic or scholastic pursuits. Clark explained that this assurance can be given under Section 3 (e) of the Act which exempts from registration agents of foreign principals who engage only in activities in furtherance of bona fide scholastic, academic, or scientific pursuits.
Clark emphasized, however, that under specific provisions of the Act this exemption is not available if these persons engage in any political activity on behalf of a foreign principal, on their own behalf, or on behalf of any other person. For purposes of the Act Clark stated “political activity includes, among other things, activities designed to influence any segment of the American people with reference to the political or public interest of a foreign government or of a foreign political party, or with reference to the foreign policies of the United States. For example, the active participation of a foreign scholar in a public meeting for any of the above purposes, even though such meeting is sponsored or arranged by an American organization, would mean that he is not engaged exclusively in scholastic, scientific, or academic pursuits within the meaning of the statute. He is not prohibited from engaging in such activity under this Act, but his registration would be required.”
The statement thus makes clear that, so far as Attorney General is concerned, test of whether a visitor must register under the Act is what the visitor does after he arrives in this country and not advance stipulations as to what he intends to do.
In view foregoing, Department feels that FonOff may be assured that scholars will not be required to register if they confine their activities to scientific, academic and scholastic pursuits. FonOff should clearly understand, however, that if a visitor actually engages in other activities of the type indicated by Clark, registration will be necessary. Department leaves to your discretion decision whether question of registration should be discussed when invitations issued or whether better tactics to let Soviets raise issue. Department feels, however, that any [commitment?] made regarding registration should be in writing or confirmed in writing.[Page 530]
Reference whole question of invitation to scholars, Department suggests that when you take up matter, you repeat desire of U. S. to have reciprocal invitation issued Americans at a future date.
- Latter telegram not printed.↩