The Secretary of State to the Legation in Bulgaria
52. Urtels 119 and 120, Feb 12.2 You are authorized transmit note to FonOff substantially as follows:
“On instructions from my Govt, I have the honor to refer to the published indictment against 15 Protestant pastors in Bulg, who are charged with ‘espionage, treason and currency operations’ involving US Govt officials formerly on duty in Bulg.
“Such charges are unfounded and ludicrous. My Govt can only consider their formulation a blatant terroristic effort, in cynical disregard of the facts, designed to intimidate the small, respected Protestant religious denominations in Bulg and to discredit their sincere religious leaders.
“In the circumstances, my Govt reserves its rights under the Treaty of Peace with Bulgaria, and requests that facilities be made available for representatives of the US Leg to attend the trial.”
Advise when action taken as Dept plans publish note fol delivery.3 Brit state their Chargé Sofia delivered note Feb 16 to FonOff and publication intended.
Neither printed; they transmitted excerpts from a summary of an indictment filed in a Sofia court against fifteen members of the Supreme Council of the United Protestant Churches in Bulgaria. The indictment had been published on February 11 (874.404/2–1249). An unofficial translation of the full text of the indictment was transmitted to the Department as an enclosure to despatch 28, February 12, from Sofia, not printed (874.404/2–1249). The indictment is printed in Press Department, Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Trial of the Fifteen Protestant Pastors—Spies (Sofia: 1949), pp. 1–18.
In his telegram 116, February 11, from Sofia, not printed, Chargé (Counselor of Legation) Sidney E. O’Donoghue reported that he had that morning called on George Andreichin, Special Assistant in the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, to express his personal disgust at the publication of the indictment against the Bulgarian Protestant pastors (874.404/2–1149). Telegram 35, February 11, to Sofia, not printed, stated that the Department of State’s press officer had issued the following statement regarding the indictment:
“Similarity between fantastic accusations being made against Protestant religious leaders in Bulg and those against Cardinal Mindszenty in Hung, whose trial has so recently been concluded, strikingly emphasizes concerted nature of this continuing Commie assault on religious liberties in Eastern Eur”. (874.404/2–1149)↩
In his telegram 148, February 21, from Sofia, not printed, Chargé O’Donoghue reported on the delivery of the note as follows:
“In inability to be received by ranking officials Foreign Ministry this morning note exact text Deptel 52, February 18 delivered personally at noon today to Ivanonff an assistant in protocol section. At 12:30 Ivanoff requested Courtney (Raymond F. Courtney, Second Secretary of the Legation at Sofia) by telephone to come to Ministry. When receiving him he returned note saying it had been read by political section which would not present it to Foreign Minister because ‘tone and cynical wording incorrect and not accordance proper diplomatic practice’. Added Foreign Minister and other officials of Foreign Office will be ready any time discuss each question which Legation may wish refer it in a proper manner.” (874.404/2–2149)
For the purposes of record the Department of State considered delivery of the note as having been accomplished. The text was released to the press on February 23; see Department of State Bulletin, March 6, 1949, p. 300.↩