23. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs (Tubby) to the Presidentʼs Press Secretary (Salinger)0


  • Luncheon Discussion with TASS Correspondent1

The requirement that Soviet correspondents be finger printed if they remain more than one year in this country applies to all nonimmigrant aliens.2 It is also true that the Soviet Union does not require such finger printing of our correspondents but it does place many other impediments in their way.

The objections of Soviet correspondents to comply with this requirement was first brought to the attention of the Department of State in October 1960. In November the Department informed the Minister Consular of the Soviet Embassy (Mr. Smirnovsky) that the question would be reviewed.

For the moment the Immigration & Naturalization Service has agreed to the Soviet correspondents remaining in the United States without complying with the finger printing requirement.

For your information only, conversations were held between the Department of State and the Immigration Service on this subject as late as last week and indications are that the nonimmigrant alien finger printing requirement will be removed. If this is decided upon it requires action by the Secretary of State and the Attorney General who jointly and formally agreed to the present system. This Department does not think it would be helpful to engage Mr. Sagatelyan in a polemic inasmuch as this might have an adverse effect on American correspondents in Moscow.

American news correspondents in Moscow are subjected to rigid censorship and are subject to having their six monthsʼ residence permits unrenewed if they fail to report the news in a manner favorable to Soviet interests.

Most important, however, is the difficulty in getting American correspondents admitted to the Soviet Union. The U.S. Government has not refused a visa to any Soviet correspondent desiring to come to the United [Page 61] States during the past several years. In contrast the Soviet Government has failed to take positive action on the application of a reputable American news organization, Fairchild Publications, which wishes to station a permanent correspondent in Moscow. The New York Herald Tribune informed us Thursday that it was concerned because a visa had not been issued yet to Walter Lister who will replace Tom Lambert in Moscow. Lambert is leaving Moscow having finished his tour, but his dispatches have been severely criticized by the Soviet Government.

Attached is a statement prepared by our Soviet Affairs Office on the Fairchild Publicationsʼ application. Enclosed also is a memo from the Visa Office about the refusal of Mr. Shishkin, presently Chief of the TASS Office in New York City, to apply for an extension of stay as required by the law.3

It is felt that you could help by mentioning the problem of getting American correspondents into Moscow. The Department would appreciate anything that you could tell us about the results of your conversation.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 911.6261/2-661. No classification marking. Drafted by Kluckhohn (SCA).
  2. Mikhail R. Sagatelyan, Washington TASS Bureau Chief.
  3. On March 24 and 28 McSweeney discussed this question with Soviet Embassy representatives, stating that the fingerprinting issue was being considered, but that until a final decision was made Soviet correspondents would not be fingerprinted. (Memoranda of conversation; Department of State, Central Files, 911.6261/3-2461 and 3-2861)
  4. Neither printed.