124.60H3/1–847: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Yugoslavia

top secret

16. Urtels 17 and 18 Jan 7.1 Our views communicated Deptel 14 Jan 72 should be transmitted FonOff as instructed therein. Despite humanitarian interest in unfortunate fate Stefanovich and others Dept does not feel much likelihood obtaining mitigation sentences already imposed by Yugos on Yugos nationals.

However, if Tito has not already made negative reply your letter you may address him further communication transmitting copy of note forwarded FonOff in accordance Deptel 14 and adding that with reference charges on which Yugos were convicted Pridonoff has denied to Dept having paid any money for info he obtained and has stated that info he sought and received was generally known and available. You may conclude that in view of results US Govt’s investigation set forth in note and of Pridonoff’s denial, it is hoped Yugos authorities may see fit to suspend execution death sentences pending further investigation [Page 747] as to whether such penalties should not be mitigated by clemency.

As regards publicity, for your info, Dept spokesman informed press when trial opened that charges are without foundation and added for background that Emb personnel had not been engaged in any unfriendly or improper activities. He stated further also for background that purpose trial appeared to be to embarrass Emb and to silence and discredit Trifunovich and other opposition elements.

Accordingly, no statement by you seems necessary but if asked you may inform correspondents of Dept spokesman’s on record remark.

  1. Telegram 17 under reference here is printed supra. Telegram 18 transmitted the text of Chargé Hickok’s message of January 7 to Marshal Tito asking a stay of execution for the three Yugoslavs condemned to death in the recent spy trial. Neither the letter nor the telegram is printed (860H.00/1–747).
  2. Not printed; it contained instructions regarding the delivery of a note to the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry. The note, dated January 10, is printed infra.