Published in The New York Times, June 18, 1921
FORCE AMERICANS INTO GREEK ARMY
Our Consul at Smyrna Protests Against Impressment
Of Men Who Served in France.
REPORTS SCORES OF CASES
Washington Instructs Legation at Athens to
Make Informal Representations on Practice.
SMYRNA, June 17 (Associated Press) – American citizens are being impressed into the Greek Army by agents of the Athens Government, and George Horton, United States Consul General here, has made a vigorous protest to Governor General Steriades against the continuance of the practice. For many months past Americans, even men who served in the army in France, have been taken forcibly from their homes or from vessels arriving from the United States and compelled to join the Greek forces.
There have been scores of such cases in Athens, Smyrna, Patras and Saloniki, and only those able to escape and get into communication with American Consular officials have obtained redress. In many instances they have been stripped of their clothing and their passports and other papers have been confiscated. When they have protested, it is charged, they have been handcuffed, thrown into jails and mistreated.
Consul General Horton declares this action by the Greek authorities is in flagrant violation of existing agreements between the United States and Greece, granting military exemption to persons naturalized as American citizens prior to Feb. 1, 1914, and those, who, although naturalized since that time, have served with the American army or navy.
One case is cited as typical of many. Private James Raftel of New York City, who was cited for bravery in the Argonne campaign and who has been receiving a disability allowance of $50 a month from the United States Government, was recently arrested by Greek authorities at Mitylene. He came to Greece as an American citizen to be married, but was brought to Smyrna under guard. He escaped surveillance and appealed to the American Consul General here, whose energetic action resulted in the man’s immediate release. Raftel is now returning to New York City with his wife.
Consul General Horton has made it a practice when Americans have been released from the Greek army, personally to put them on board boats and send them to America. He declares this is the only way of shielding them from further molestation. Mr. Horton has informed Governor General Steriades that such contravention of American rights threatens the good relations existing between the two countries, and he declares he will shelter all aggrieved persons in the American Consulate until given guarantees that their rights and liberties will be respected.
Governor General Steriades has repeatedly promised to remedy the situation and has repudiated the action of minor Greek officials in detaining American citizens, but despite his efforts arrests of Americans continue. Mr. Horton has appealed to Washington to make a peremptory demand upon the Greek Government to discontinue this breach of the agreement existing between the two countries.
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