December 22, 1908.
Pursuant to a resolution passed at the regularly called meeting of the Executive Committee of the Friends of Russian Freedom, I write to ask your judgment as a member of the National Committee, regarding an appeal made to this Society by the Pouren Defense Committee. This Committee appeals to the Friends of Russian Freedom to join with it in denouncing the present extradition treaty between Russia and the United States. The appeal is made on the following grounds:
1. It is believed that the Russian Government is using the treaty to obtain political offenders under the cover of alleged civil offenses. The Pouren case and that against Rudovicz in Chicago, are cited as evidence. In both of these cases counsel for the Russian Government made constant effort to force witnesses for the defense to give the names of others involved in revolutionary disturbances. The counsel also sought to learn how false passports were obtained.
2. The expense of the above named cases has borne very heavily upon poor Russians in this country who could ill afford to bear this burden. It may be stated that in both cases, counsel gave their services gratuitously. $35000. has, however, already been spent in the Pouren case. Nearly all of that sum was raised on the lower East side.
3. It is alleged that an extradition treaty is granted in the belief that the parties extradited [page 2] would have a fair trial in the country to which they are returned. No such assurance exists regarding Russia. In one very clearly established case, a Russian political exile extradited from Switzerland for a civil offense was subsequently tried and convicted for a political offense, in spite of the pledge made before extradition that this would not be done.
On these grounds we are asked to join with the Pouren Defense Committee in appealing to the State Department to denounce its extradition treaty with Russia. It may be stated that the terms of the treaty are such that either of the high contracting parties may give six months notice of their intention to abrogate or denounce the treaty.
It may be added that the Society of the Friends of Russian Freedom in existence when the present extradition treaty was signed in 1893, opposed its ratification, and after this had been done, made a vigorous campaign for its annulment on the ground, among others, that "the political conditions and criminal laws of these two countries differ too widely to permit any benefit from any extradition treaty between them."
We desire your judgement regarding the appeal of the Pouren Defense Committee and would like to know if you will support us in an appeal for the Abrogation of the present extradition treaty between the United States and Russia.
Very sincerely yours,
James Bronson Reynolds [signed]