Harrison fails to dissuade her captors

Marguerite Harrison had talked herself out of tight situations before, and so she feigned outrage at her arrest and detention in Chita . She argued that it was not her fault the country had fallen to Soviet Russia.   Under interrogation by a GPU official named Bogdonov, Marguerite recounted her trip through Asia and insisted she was working purely as a journalist. With somewhat tortured reasoning, she argued that America had no reason to spy on Russia because the two countries were not at war. She added that she had supported and continued to support Soviet Russia.

Her captors would not be swayed. The commandant told her she would be sent on the next train to Moscow, where officials would reveal the details of the charges against her. He did, however, allow her to notify American authorities of her arrest and permit them to bring her personal items and all her documents. She thought the papers would prove she was a journalist and not a spy. Marlborough Churchill’s refusal to give her documents attesting to her previous employment with MID proved fortuitous. Even though the Russians knew her past, such papers would only have made matters worse, and, at the very least, embarrassed the United States. As it was, her detention created a new headache for the American government, which still had no diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia.

Edward Thomas, the vice consul in Chita,  telegrammed the American office in Tokyo, which immediately let Washington know that Marguerite had been arrested. He said he had demanded from the head of the Far Eastern Republic Revolutionary Committee an explanation about for why she had been detained. The Chita official had expressed surprise and regret, and told him there probably had been a misunderstanding and she would be released immediately. But two days passed, and then the administrator sent Thomas a brief note telling him the orders for Marguerite’s arrest came had come from Moscow.

There was nothing he could do.

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