861.20211 Gubitchev, Valentine/7–2049

The Secretary of State to the Attorney General ( Clark )


My Dear Mr. Attorney General: I should like to bring to your attention certain considerations in connection with the decision to postpone to October 17 the opening of the trial of Valentin Gubitchev.1

On March 24 in an Aide-Mémoire to the Soviet Embassy rejecting a claim of immunity for Gubitchev, the Department of State, after clearing with your Department, assured the Soviet Government that “Mr. Gubitchev will be tried without undue delay”. This assurance was repeated in a subsequent Aide-Mémoire of April 28. Early in May, [Page 794] copies of these Aide-Mémoire were transmitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

As a result of the postponement of the trial to October 17, more than eight months will have elapsed between the date of Gubitchev’s arrest and the date of his trial. Gubitchev remains on $100,000 bail, with stringent limitations on his movements. His status as a member of the Secretariat of the United Nations remains in abeyance since the Secretary-General suspended Gubitchev pending the outcome of his trial.

As you will recall, the Department has been seriously concerned about the possible effects of the arrest and detention of Gubitchev on the welfare and safety of United States personnel in our embassies in Eastern European countries. This fear of retaliation continues and is heightened by the news of the further postponement of Gubitchev’s trial.

The decision to open the trial in New York on October 17 means that the trial will take place simultaneously with the Fourth Session of the General Assembly which opens in New York on September 20. The trial will undoubtedly receive wide news coverage and will be the subject of lively interest in the Assembly. You should be aware of the possibility that one of the Eastern European delegations might ask to have the case placed on the agenda of the General Assembly. In this event, it can be expected that delegations hostile to us will use every possible propaganda attack against the United States, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We are not concerned about any adverse action by the General Assembly itself since the overwhelming majority of the member governments will understand the situation, and also since we and the Secretary General are in substantial accord on this problem. I mention this possibility merely to let you have advance knowledge of the possibility of a sharp discussion of this case in the General Assembly.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Acheson
  1. This trial date was set after several previous postponements. A Tass item for July 10 about this latest delay appeared in the press in the Soviet Union. In an undated memorandum, but probably written about July 13, Dean Rusk noted: “Apparently, the calendar of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York does not make available at this time the services of a judge to try the Gubitchev-Coplon case.”