800.00 Summaries/8–1248: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union


940. Questioned at press conference re alleged “abduction” of Sov teachers Samarin and Mrs. Kosenkina (see Wireless Bulletin 188 Aug 10) Secy made statement as follows:1 We have not yet all details of what transpired; we expect to have that data shortly and until that is obtained cannot make more specific statement. (Infotel) There can be no question but this govt will not countenance any action which interferes with diplomatic immunity of Sov officials and certain Sov premises. Sov Amb’s request on us was based on incorrect info, to wit that Samarins are being held under control, which is not the case. We have complication in relation to position taken by Sov Amb where our law is one thing and Sov law is another as applied in this particular case and of course our law will dominate situation in this country. If there is any criminal act involved our govt will see that proper cognizance is taken of that. If the individuals comply with our laws they are assured of freedom and protection of this govt.

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Press reports following developments: Subpoena by House Committee on Un-American Activities handed to Samarin and his wife.2 Samarin issued statement that he was placing himself under protection US govt and public opinion and that he wants to tell all he knows about totalitarian practices of Sov dictatorship and conditions of life of Russian people.3 Sov Consul General New York served with writ of habeas corpus directing him to produce Mrs. Kosenkina in New York State Supreme Court. Writ obtained by Chairman of Board of Common Cause Inc. Consul General said he will not produce teacher nor appear in court.

Dept reed note from Sov Emb stating that writ by New York Supreme Court is in complete contradiction with rights and privileges of consulates of foreign states; that judicial organs of country in which consul resides may not impose on him obligations to secure appearance in court of citizens of country he represents and that writ could not be executed by Consul General as he does not have right and possibility of compelling “free citizeness” of USSR to appear in New York court.

Mrs. Kosenkina jumped from window of Sov Consulate General today and is reported at Roosevelt Hospital with two Sov guards.4

  1. New York Times, August 12, 1948, p. 5.
  2. The subpoena was handed to Samarin by prearrangement on a street in New York by Stephen W. Birmingham, a representative of the Un-American Activities Committee, shortly before noon on August 10. He also accepted one for his wife. At 10:45 a. m., on August 12, Samarin left with Special Agent McKillup of the Committee from La Guardia airfield to appear before the Committee in Washington at a closed session. Mrs. Kasenkina was also served with a subpoena in the Roosevelt Hospital on the morning of August 14 by Robert E. Stripling, the Chief Investigator for the Un-American Activities Committee. Both had welcomed service of the subpoenas which had placed them under the protection of the United States until they had testified.
  3. Soon after accepting service of the subpoena on August 10, Samarin corroborated his original statement of August 8 in an interview with a reporter on a bench in Central Park. That night he came to the office of the New York Times where he made a supplementary statement. See the New York Times, August 11, 1948, pp. 1, 2.
  4. This inaccuracy was corrected in telegram 946 to Moscow on August 13 at 7 p. m., not printed (800.00 Summaries/8–1348). The New York city Police Department had assigned an adequate number of detectives with a police woman inside the hospital room to guard Mrs. Kasenkina.