Editorial Note

On January 23, the Department of State issued the following press release concerning the trial of Dr. Gordon S. Seagrave in Burma:

“A number of misapprehensions seem to have arisen in the country over the facts surrounding the trial of Dr. Gordon S. Seagrave on charges of abetting treason against the Government of the Union of Burma. In order to avoid further misunderstanding the Department wishes to make the following statement:

‘The Burmese Special Tribunal of three senior judges which tried Dr. Gordon S. Seagrave, an American citizen, on three charges under the High Treason Act (a law devolved from the period of British rule in Burma), on January 17, 1951, found him guilty under two of the charges and acquitted him on the other. He was found guilty of assisting Naw Seng, an insurgent leader, to carry out the arrest of the Sawbwa of North Hsenwi, Special Commissioner for the Shan State, by concealing pertinent information from the Government. For this, he was sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment. He was also found guilty of turning over to Naw Seng certain medical and surgical supplies. He was sentenced to year’s imprisonment on this count. Both sentences would be served concurrently. He was acquitted on the charge of receiving Naw Seng in his hospital compound and offering him tea.

‘Dr. Seagrave’s attorney, U Kyaw Myint, a former judge of the Supreme Court, is filing an appeal to the High Court, and it is understood that the appeal will probably be heard within 1 month. In the meantime, the American Embassy in Rangoon, which has rendered all possible assistance to Dr. Seagrave during the trial, is procuring and forwarding to the Department of State a complete transcript of the testimony in the case.

‘The Embassy in Rangoon has been able to help Dr. Seagrave in many ways, including assistance in obtaining the services of an outstanding attorney for his defense, and by arranging to have Dr. Seagrave transferred from jail to a private residence during the trial. A representative of the Embassy visited Dr. Seagrave’s hospital at Namkham, near the Chinese border, in order to confer with his sister and to obtain first-hand information about conditions at the hospital. The Embassy also had a representative present throughout the court proceedings and kept the State Department fully informed of all important developments.

‘Since the case is still before the Burmese courts, it would be inappropriate for the Department of State to make any comment on the verdict handed down by the Special Tribunal.’”(Department of State Bulletin, February 5, 1951, page 224)