FBI File on Lester Pearson

Soviet Espionage:  FBI File on Lester (Mike) Pearson

 

E X T R A C T

(Actual FBI file extract is embedded below.)

FBI Memo About Lester Pearson

September 8, 1951

Mr. A. H. Belmont

Mr. C. E. Hennrich

LESTER B. PEARSON,
Michael Pearson:
ELIZABETH BENTLEY — INFORMANT
ESPIONAGE — R.

PURPOSE:

To recommend that the answers to the State Department’s questions concerning the information made available by Elizabeth Bentley on Lester Pearson, highly placed Canadian government official, by [be] forwarded to the State Department. To recommend that additional information made available by Bentley regarding Lester Pearson be forwarded to the Department of Justice and to Inspector Bayfield of the RCMP.

BACKGROUND:

Elizabeth Bentley was interviewed by agents of the New York Office on August 17, 1951, at which time she related that she recently had been a witness before the McCarran Committee and had answered questions placed by the Committee concerning Lester Pearson. On interview Bentley provided as much as she could recall of the testimony that she gave on August 14, 1951 to the McCarran Committee. In effect she stated that in 1943 and 1944 Pearson, then an official of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, made information available to Bentley through an intermediary. Pearson allegedly gave information of a political nature.

The intermediary was not identified in the communications sent to the Department of State, the Department of Justice, or Inspector Bayfield under date of August 27, 1951. Elizabeth Bentley identified the intermediary as Hazen Size, member of the Canadian Film Board in Washington, D. C.

By teletype dated September 5, 1951, New York advised that on reinterview on that date Bentley was unable to state in what manner Size obtained the information concerning top level British policy and political matters from Pearson. She did not know whether Pearson provided such information voluntarily to Size knowing that it was going to be given to an unauthorized party. Bentley restated that Pearson and Size were very friendly in Canada and were connected with left wing circles in that country. She advised that she was only guessing but that she was of the opinion that Pearson either knew that the information made available by him was being given to an unauthorized person or that he simply was stupid.

[Approximately 18 lines deleted under United States Freedom of Information Act.]

OBSERVATIONS:

Answers to the above questions obtained during the interviews of Bentley are set out as follows:

1. Bentley identified the intermediary who passed information from Pearson to her as Hazen Size, member of the Canadian Film Board in Washington, D. C. Bentley on interview on September 5, 1951, told New York agents that she was only guessing but that she was of the opinion that Pearson either knew that the information made available by him was being given to an unauthorized person or that he was simply stupid.

2. By confidential memorandum dated August 27, 1951, Inspector Bayfield of the RCMP was advised of the identical information provided to the Department of State and the Department of Justice under letters of that date.

3. Bentley provided the information attributed to her to agents of the New York Office on August 17, 1951, and on September 5, 1951.

RECOMMENDATION:

It is recommended that this information requested by the State Department through Liaison be forwarded to them together with the information provided by Bentley on reinterview. In view of the additional information provided by Bentley on reinterview it is recommended that this information be forwarded to the Department of Justice and to Inspector Bayfield.

ACTION:

For your approval are attached letters to the Department of State, the Department of Justice and a memorandum for Inspector Bayfield.

DIRECTOR’S NOTATION: “OK. H.”

Source:  Unknown, FBI Memo About Lester Pearson, The Education and Research Institute, Silvermaster File Online, http://education-research.org/PDFs/Silvermaster151.pdf, (September 8, 1951)

Read a copy of Pearson’s FBI spy file online here:

 

M O R E   E X T R A C T S

(Actual FBI file extract is embedded below.)

FBI Memo About Lester Pearson

TO:

MR. L. L. LAUGHLIN

Date: August 16, 1951

FROM:

MR. C. A. MOINIHAN

SUBJECT: ELIZABETH BENTLEY
TESTIMONY BEFORE McCARRAN COMMITTEE
AUGUST 16, 1951

At 11:15 P.M., New York Night Supervisor John Willis called, referred to your call earlier this evening in connection with instant matter, and advised as follows:

The files of the New York Office fail to reflect that Elizabeth Bentley at any time spoke to Bureau Agents concerning Michael Pearson, Canadian Minister of External Affairs.

The Agents handling Bentley don’t recall the name Michael Pearson; however, Agent Tom Spencer will look into the matter further and will call you tomorrow from the New York Office.

Recommendation:

None. This is for your information.

CAM:dmd

ADDENDUM:

The above call is in response to my request of August 16, following the receipt of information from a representative of the McCarran Committee that Miss Bentley allegedly furnished certain information to the Bureau regarding Lester B. (Michael) Pearson, Canadian Minister of External Affairs. The New York Office was advised that a thorough check of the Bureau’s records had failed to locate any information received from Miss Bentley regarding Pearson. Accordingly, Mr. Willis was requested to check the files of the New York Office and if no record was located there, arrangements should be made to have Miss Bentley interviewed concerning this matter.

At 9:20 A.M., August 17, 1951, I talked to Mr. Spencer, who was acting on Mr. Whelan’s desk, and inquired as to the status of this matter. Mr. Spencer stated that he was endeavoring to reach Miss Bentley and that he would notify the Bureau as soon as Miss Bentley was interviewed. At this time Mr. Spencer stated that he was positive that Miss Bentley never furnished any information to him concerning Pearson.

LLL:mer

 

[ NEW PAGE ]

At 3:35 P.M. Mr. Spencer advised that he had talked to Miss Bentley, who stated that she is of the opinion that she previously had furnished information concerning Pearson’s activities to the Bureau during the several interviews had with her by Bureau representatives in connection with the Gregory and other cases. Mr. Spencer stated he assured Miss Bentley that she had not furnished information concerning Pearson. Spencer further pointed out that Miss Bentley then stated that apparently she was in error since it was her recollection that she had made this information available to Bureau Agents.

Mr. Spencer then stated that the information he obtained from Miss Bentley had been incorporated in a teletype and forwarded to the Bureau.

ACTION:

Upon the receipt of this information, consideration should be given to making it available to the Department and the State Department in view of Pearson’s official Canadian position.

 

[ NEW PAGE ]

[ Page 58 of 116 of the Silvermaster PDF: ]

[STAMPED:] CONFIDENTIAL

MR. L. L. LAUGHLIN          September 6, 1951
MR. V. P. KRAY [sp?]

LESTER B. PEARSON
SPECIAL INQUIRY
STATE DEPARTMENT

Under date of August 17, 1951, the Bureau supplied to the State Department information concerning the alleged Soviet espionage activities of Lester B. Pearson, as reported by Elizabeth Bentley.

The information supplied by the Bureau reflected that in 1943 and 1944, Pearson, then an official of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, made information available to Bentley through an intermediary. Pearson allegedly gave information of a political nature.

[ FIVE LARGE REDACTED AREAS ]

RRR: mfs:mer

RECOMMENDATION:

It is recommended we comply with the State Department’s request and supply to Mr. Matthews for his personal and confidential use the answers to the above mentioned questions raised by him.

The Liaison Unit should be informed of the nature of the reply to be given to Mr. Matthrews [sic].

 

[NEW PAGE]

[ Page 63 of 116 on the Silvermaster PDF: ]

CONFIDENTIAL
September 8, 1951
MEMORANDUM FOR INSPECTOR BAYFIELD
LESTER B. PEARSON, MR.
Michael Pearson

Reference is made to my communication to you dated August 27, 1951 in captioned matter.

This is to advise that Elizabeth Bentley has stated that Lester Pearson and Hazen Size, member of the Canadian Film Board in Washington, D.C., were friendly in Canada and were connected with and moved in left wing circles in Canada before World War II. Accordingl [sic] to Bentley, while Pearson was either number 1 or number 2 man in the Canadian Legation in Washington, D.C., in 1943, he attended all top level meetings with British diplomats in Washington, D.C. At these meetings policy and political matters were discussed. Pearson would make this information available to Size, who in turn would provide the same to Bentley. This type of contact was maintained for about 1-1/2 years in 1943 and 1944.

Bentley advised that she was unable to state in what manner Size obtained that information from Pearson and that she did not know whether Pearson provided such information voluntarily to Size knowing that it was going to an unauthorized party. She also stated that she was only guessing but that she was of the opinion that Pearson either knew what [sic] the information made available by him was being given to an unauthorized person or that he was simply stupid.

The information attributed toe [sic] Bentley in this communication and in the communication of August 27, 1951, was provided by her to Special Agents of this bureau in New York on August 17, 1951 and on September 5, 1951.

cc:   Mr. Glenn H. Bethel
c/o The Commissioner
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Foreign Service Desk

HWS:fnm          REGISTERED AIR MAIL
65-60356

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s