177. Telegram 2080 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2

For Acting Assistant Secretary Davies and NEA/IRN - Miklos


  • Princess Ashraf Requests for Cooperation

Summary: In connection with suits she is bringing against French and Swiss papers, Princess Ashraf has requested cooperation of USG in providing official document on confidential basis which would refute charge recently made in Nouvelle Observateur (quoting The Nation of April 12, 1965) that US federal narcotics bureau once recommended USG never again permit Princess to enter country because of her involvement in heroin trafficking incident in 1961.

Action requested: (A) Provide Embassy with earliest possible guidance whether, in principle, USG prepared provide type of document Ashraf seeks (assuming facts so warrant) or, if this not possible, fullest possible explanation of reasons. (B) Exercise of extreme discretion in making inquiries into this matter lest it become source of serious embarrassment to GOI and USG at time Presidential visit in offing. End summary.

Acting on instruction Princess Ashraf, member of her staff (Ambassador Parviz Radji) called political counselor to his office April 10 to: (a) advise that Princess is bringing suits against several Swiss and French papers and (b) request cooperation of USG in connection with suit against Nouvelle Observateur.
Radji explained that Princess had cancelled plans to attend Human Rights Commission meeting in New York and had remained in Paris for past month (circa March 5 to April 4). She had decided her presence in New York at time of press outcry re (a) Prince Davallou’s arrest in Switzerland on drug trafficking charge and (b) arrests, trials and executions of subversives in Iran, would be disservice to Iran, him and herself.
While in Paris, she became infuriated by scurrilous stories in Swiss and French papers which had revived (in connection with coverage of Prince Davallou’s arrest) charge that Princess herself had been discovered by Swiss authorities in February 1961 (rpt 1961) to be carrying large quantities of heroin. She had decided, therefore, that for good of Pahlavi name and her own standing in international community, she must erase this charge from public record once and for all. With this in view, she has already instituted suits against papers involved, which include Le Monde, Nouvelle Observateur, Le Journal de Geneve and La Suisse (and perhaps at later date Canard Enchaine). Princess does not plan to publicize her decision bring suits or seek publicity while suits in process, though will probably want publicity once decisions handed down.
Radji claims that Princess has now secured documentary evidence from Federal Swiss Government, Canton of Geneva and Geneva police proving irrefutably that alleged incident in 1961 involving her in transport of heroin had simply never taken place. He said evidence was such as to make it 99 percent sure Princess would win her suits against papers noted.
He went on to say that Nouvelle Observateur had also, quoting The Nation of April 12, 1965 (rpt 1965), charged that Federal Narcotics Bureau had once recommended USG never again permit Ashraf to enter US on grounds of her involvement in heroin trafficking. Princess is anxious to refute this charge although not so much because this is needed to win her case (though it would be helpful) as to clear all charges from record at same time, she has, therefore, asked that USG be requested to provide official statement on confidential basis (for use in suit against Nouvelle Observateur) to effect Federal Narcotics Bureau had never made recommendation of [Page 3]nature charged.
We told Radji this request from Princess would be promptly brought to Washington’s attention and we were sure it would be considered sympathetically, though we were not familiar with what USG laws or regulations might affect this matter.
Radji then asked, prefacing question with comment “this nightmare” had not seemed to occur to anyone else, whether Federal Bureau of Narcotics had in fact made such recommendation and, if so, how matter could then be handled. We replied we had no knowledge on this score but noted all govermnent agencies (US and Iranian) undoubtedly act or make recommendations on some occasions on basis of unconfirmed rumors and reports. Thus, it not beyond realm of possibility reports of Princess involvement in heroin incident in 1961 had gained enough currency at time so that some USG agent of agency might have addressed itself to problem.
Radji said Princess is anxious move ahead with suits against paper at earliest possible time and before summer recess of French courts. She hopes, therefore, USG cooperation in this matter can be forthcoming within near future.

Comment: Would appreciate guidance as soon as possible whether, in principle, USG prepared provide type of document requested by Ashraf (assuming facts so warrant). If this is not possible, needless to say, we will want fullest possible explanation of reasons.

It is perhaps superfluous to point out that, particularly with Presidential visit in offing, it would be extremely embarrassing to both USG and GOI if it were to become public knowledge that Shah’s sister had requested such document, but USG unable provide it because there had in fact been recommendation by Federal Narcotics Bureau of nature charged by Nouvelle Observateur and The Nation. For this reason, we trust inquiries into matter can be made on most discreet basis.

Even if it turns out USG able provide type of document requested, it would obviously not enhance our relations with court if news of Ashraf’s suits against European press were to leak from US sources.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 IRAN. Confidential; Exdis. In Telegram 35450 to Tehran, March 1, the Department inquired about a press story regarding a member of the Shah’s entourage, Amir Hushang Davallou, who had been charged in Switzerland with narcotics trafficking. Invoking diplomatic immunity, DAVALLOU had departed the country on the private plane of the Shah, who allegedly cut short his vacation to get DAVALLOU out of the country. The scandal rekindled charges of narcotics trafficking within the Shah’s inner circle. (Ibid, SOC 11–5 SWITZ)
  2. The Embassy conveyed the request of the Shah’s sister, Princess Ashraf, for U.S. Government assistance in refuting the charge that the U.S. Federal Narcotics Bureau had once recommended that she be denied entry to the United States due to a heroin trafficking incident in 1961.