138. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Yugoslav Protest at Decision in Artukovic Extradition Case


  • Mr. Ante Drndic—Political Counselor, Yugoslav Embassy
  • Mr. Edward L. Freers, Director, Office of Eastern European Affairs
  • Mr. Moncrieff J. Spear, EE
  • Mr. Alan Neidle, L
  • Mr. Frederick Smith, Jr., L
[Page 367]

Mr. Drndic called on Mr. Freers on January 21, 1959 to protest the decision of the United States Commissioner in Los Angeles that Andrija Artukovic, Minister of the Independent State of Croatia during World War II, was not extraditable.1

In making this protest, Mr. Drndic explained that he wished to make two points.

First, he wished to express the Yugoslav disappointment, bitterness and disillusionment at this decision. Because of Artukovic’s history in Yugoslavia during World War II, this decision would be received with particular bitterness by the people there. In addition, the Yugoslav Embassy staff was deeply disappointed, not only because of the time, effort, and money they put into the case, but also because they had been led to believe that justice would be done in this case. Now, however, they had concluded that it was impossible to receive justice in the US courts. After expressing appreciation for the Department’s role in this case, Mr. Drndic said that the Yugoslavs realized that this was “the end of the road” as far as the extradition proceedings were concerned. Mr. Freers asked whether the lawyer for the Yugoslavs had advised this, and in reply Mr. Drndic stated that this was the decision of the Yugoslavs on the matter. He continued that the decision could not help but have adverse effects on the friendly ties which had developed between the US and Yugoslavia during their common struggle in World War II.

As his second point, Mr. Drndic said that the Yugoslav Embassy had been advised by their Consul General in San Francisco that Artukovic was under order of deportation, and requested that in the interests of our mutual relations the Department support the deportation of Artukovic. This was urgent, as the Yugoslavs had learned that three days after the extradition decision, Representative Utt of California had introduced a bill into the Congress to grant Artukovic citizenship.

In reply to Mr. Drndic’s representations, Mr. Freers stated that we could not, of course, comment on the merits of the extradition commissioner’s decision. He also felt that our relations had steadily improved in recent years and he could not understand the allusion to the harm to the friendly ties our countries had developed during the World War II struggle. While we could understand the Yugoslav reaction to the decision, we could not agree with the comment that it was impossible to receive justice in the American courts. Upon further questioning by Mr. Freers Mr. Drndic clarified the point by saying he was referring to their case, not United States justice in abstract.

[Page 368]

It was explained to Mr. Drndic that deportation came under the jurisdiction of the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Justice. However, it was our understanding that there was a warrant for deportation outstanding against Artukovic, which had been suspended during the extradition proceedings.2 The Department would undertake to query the Immigration Service and find out the status of the deportation proceedings and advise the Yugoslav Embassy.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.6826/1–2159. Confidential. Drafted by Spear.
  2. The judgment on the Artukovic case was given on January 16; the Yugoslav Government had been seeking the extradition of Artukovic since 1951.
  3. Artukovic was subject to deportation because he had entered the United States under an assumed name in July 1948.
  4. In May 1959 a regional office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service granted a further stay in the pending deportation order against Artukovic based on the argument that if deported he would face persecution.