21. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman)1


  • Request That You Ask the Attorney General to Begin Deportation Proceedings against an Anti-Regime Iranian Leader in the United States


Our relations with the Shah, and hence our national security interests, have been seriously endangered by increasing activity on the part of [Page 38] anti-Shah Iranians in the United States, which may culminate in humiliating and perhaps dangerous demonstrations at the UCLA Commencement in June. The effect of these activities is magnified by Iranian suspicion that the anti-Shah Iranians in the United States are being covertly condoned or even supported by the United States Government. We therefore request that you approach the Attorney General, apprise him of the gravity of the situation, and ask him to take deportation action against an anti-Shah leader in the United States, thus restoring Iranian confidence in United States intentions and, hopefully, dampening the ardor of other agitators.


For the past six years the activities of anti-Shah Iranians in the United States have been a source of serious friction between the United States and Iran. Anti-American and sycophantic elements in the Imperial Court have fanned the Shah’s suspicions that important elements in the United States Government are secretly backing these bitterly anti-Shah Iranians, and that their propaganda activities, including demonstrations against the Shah and members of the royal family on visits to the United States, are condoned by the United States. Unfavorable comparisons are drawn with the actions of other governments, such as that of France, which locked up anti-Shah Iranians during the period of the Shah’s visit to France.

The Iranian tendency to suspect the United States Government of involvement in these activities is compounded by such factors as the following: (a) personal friendships between anti-Shah leaders and prominent Americans, such as Justice Douglas; (b) reception by the Attorney General of a delegation of anti-Shah Iranians and his subsequent cancellation of a stop in Tehran on his first trip to the Far East; and (c) suspension by the Department of Justice of deportation proceedings against anti-Shah Iranians in the United States whose passports had expired and were deemed not renewable by the Iranian Government. In two of the latter cases, suspension was continued even after our Ambassador had, at the request of the Department of Justice, obtained the Shah’s personal assurance that he would not prosecute the two if they returned.

One of the Shah’s top security advisors, who was in the United States a few weeks ago, stated that while the Shah would continue to be annoyed over demonstrations and other anti-regime activities, the real danger to United States-Iran relations was the Shah’s growing suspicion that unfriendly elements in the United States were being protected by the United States Government. He begged us to take some symbolic action which would counteract these suspicions.

This problem has been exacerbated by recent information, unconfirmed at present, indicating that anti-regime leaders will mount a very large demonstration against the Shah at UCLA in the course of the Shah’s [Page 39] June visit. We may have to choose between the grave dangers of suggesting that the Shah cancel his appearance in Los Angeles or risking serious humiliation and possible danger to the Shah.

In either case, the possibility of a serious break with the Shah could be greatly reduced by some action which would convince His Majesty that we are not condoning the activities of these elements. Such an action might well also dampen the enthusiasm of other anti-regime Iranians, particularly those without valid passports, and reduce the intensity of such demonstrations as may be held.

The immediate pressing of deportation proceedings against Ali Shayegan (see Tab A),2 who falsely stated in his visa application that he had never been a member of a communist organization, would appear to be perfectly tailored for the present situation. There is no basis for pity for Shayegan. He informed an NEA officer personally less than a year ago that he intended to dedicate the remainder of his life to the destruction of the Shah. You may remember him as being the most fanatical and anti-Western member of Mosadeq’s last cabinet, except for Foreign Minister Fatemi, who was executed.


That you request the Attorney General to examine the case of Ali Shayegan with the view toward immediate pressing of deportation charges against him if the legal basis therefor exists.3

  1. Source: Department of State, NEA/IRN Files: Lot 69 D 30, Iran 1964, V—Visas, 21 Deportation. Confidential. Drafted by Bowling and cleared by James J. Hines in L/SCA.
  2. Tab A, a short biography of Ali Shayegan, is not printed.
  3. The source text bears no indication of Harriman’s approval or disapproval. On May 15 Acting Administrator of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs Charles Mace sent a memorandum to Raymond Farrell, Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, stating that the Department had received “highly disturbing reports” regarding the intentions of anti-regime Iranians to organize demonstrations hostile to the Shah during his visit, which could be highly damaging to U.S. foreign policy and national security. Mace recommended deportation of Ali Shayegan and the extension of warnings to students without valid travel documents to cease their more extreme anti-regime activities or face deportation action. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 IRAN)