The Legal Adviser of the Department of State ( Gross ) to the Honorable Samuel Dickstein, Justice of the Supreme Court of New York

My Dear Mr. Justice: Pursuant to our conversation this morning, I respectfully transmit to you the position of the United States Government concerning the status of Mrs. Oksana Stepanova Kosenkina, [Page 1045] who is the subject of an application for a writ of habeas corpus now pending before your court.1

It is the view of the United States Government that there is no basis under international law or under any law of the United States for considering that Mrs. Kosenkina is in any manner subject to the control or authority of the Soviet Government so long as she remains in this country. The Department of State already has advised the Soviet Embassy that Mrs. Kosenkina will not be placed under control of any person against her own will. The Department has also advised the Soviet Embassy that although it recognizes the right of the Soviet Government, through its officials abroad to extend all proper assistance and protection to Soviet nationals, this right does not include authority to take charge of Soviet citizens in this country irrespective of their wishes.

Sincerely yours,

Ernest A. Gross
  1. The Writ had been served on Consul General Lomakin on August 11, 1948; see footnote 1, p. 1036. A hearing had been held in court on August 12 before Justice Dickstein, where detailed testimony about the disappearance and whereabouts of the Russian school teachers was given by participants. At its close the Justice reserved decision pending further inquiries. He announced that he had received a message from Lomakin requesting time to confer with Ambassador Panyushkin, and furthermore the Justice himself desired to communicate with the Department of State because of the International ramifications involved, and in order to determine the diplomatic status of the persons. (702.6111/8–1648) A copy of the Stenographic Record of the hearing on August 12, 1948, in New York Supreme Court, Special Term, Part II, is filed under 702.6111/8–1248. Justice Dickstein dismissed the summons following later developments; see New York Times, August 21, 1948, p. 1.