No. 676

249.1111–Oatis, William/5–2351: Telegram

The Ambassador in Czechoslovakia (Briggs) to the Secretary of State


744. Emb today sent note to FonOff replying communication quoted Embtel 732, May 21:1

Emb US presents compliments etc. and refers Min’s note May 21, which stated that Amer radio broadcasts had transmitted malevolent and untruthful interpretation of conversation on May 16, between FonMin and Amer Amb concerning Mr. Oatis,2 and that therefore Min saw no reason for case of Oatis to be subj any further discussion.

Emb is astonished at importance attached by Min to public speculation concerning conversation between FonMin and Amb. Emb’s report to Dept of State describing conversation was accurate report and did not contain any statement to effect Czech Govt wld release Oatis if broadcasts of RFE were stopped. Dept on its own initiative informed press on May 21, ’51, it had no knowledge any Czech proposal this nature. More explicit denial might have been difficult for reason that RFE had in fact been mentioned by FonMin. RFE was mentioned on two occasions by Siroky during Amb’s conversation on May 16, seeking release of Oatis, as creating unfavorable atmosphere. Amb so reported to his Govt.

“With respect to origin report to which Min’s note takes exception, Emb’s info is that report came in first instance from Vienna, not Wash.

Emb accordingly requests that FonMin kindly renew discussions in case of Oatis with Amb, in accordance with Min’s offer made during aforesaid conversation on May 16.

Emb avails etc.”

FonMin Siroky again in Slovakia to return May 28. In meantime we are sending separate note stating if notwithstanding continuing [Page 1362] representations Czecho Govt insists Oatis trial, then advance notification requested and arrangements by FonOff for presence Emb officials and interpreter (VC Johnson and Mary Horak).

Greatly appreciates Deptel 598 and 6023 re efforts ascertain origin “RFE for Oatis” story.

  1. The substance of telegram 732 is contained in the second paragraph of the Embassy note quoted in the telegram printed here. (249.1111–Oatis, William/5–2151)
  2. See telegram 721, Document 674.
  3. Dated May 21 and 22, respectively; they reported that the Department of State had not been able to ascertain the origin of reports concerning a possible “Oatis for RFE” exchange and that the Department itself had not been the source. (249.1111–Oatis, William/5–2051 and 5–2251)