Morning Press/1914/July/11/Editor and aviator are arrested for disclosing military secrets

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Editor and Aviator Are Arrested For Disclosing Military Secrets


Charles K. Field, Robert Fowler, Ray A. Dhem and Riley A. Scott Accused by Government Officials


By the Associated Press.

SAN FRANCISCO, July 10. Charles K. Field, editor of the Sunset Magazine, former president of the Bohemian club; Robert Fowler, the aviator; Ray A. Duhem, a photographer; and Riley A. Scott, a writer, against whom warrants had been issued charging the disclosing of military secrets, were arrested today and taken before United States Commissioner Francis Krull. They were released on their own recognizance. The charges were based on published photographs of the Panama canal fortifications.

At a special session of the federal grand jury tomorrow the government will present its evidence against Field and the other defendants and ask for indictments.

In April the Sunset published an article entitled "Can the Panama Canal be Destroyed From the Air?" reproductions of photographs taken from an aeroplane and showing some of the fortifications of the canal zone and of the San Francisco Presidio accompanied the text. As soon as a copy of the number was called to the attention of the war department, it requested Preston to investigate.

The penalty is ten years' imprisonment and $10,000 fine for such disclosure if made abroad and one year and $1,000 fine if made in the United States.

The editorial comment of the magazine on one of the photographs against which the war department particularly complained was as follows:

"This is one of the most significant photographs ever published in this country. Below the aeroplane from which the picture was taken, lie the Nace Islands, in the Bay of Panama, on which the United States government is now mounting batteries of the heaviest artillery in the world to protect the Pacific approach to the Panama canal.

"On the island, almost directly under the aeroplane can be seen the emplacement for the most powerful weapon ever constructed, the first 16-inch disappearing gun, which has an effective range of about 12 miles.

"Here is the significance of the photograph: The aeroplane might have come in time of war from a battleship out of range of the big gun, flying at a safe height, and carrying 500 pounds of high explosive instead of a camera. Would not the big gun be helpless against such a foe?"

Mr. Field's defense today was that the photographs showed no actual fortifications, nor artillery but only the emplacement for a gun and the preliminary work for a fort. To this Mr. Preston replied:

"I think the case has merit. It has always been an army regulation with the force of law forbidding the taking of photographs or view's of the permanent works of defense, whether in course of construction or completed.

"By the act of March 3, 1911, congress strengthened the regulation so that it is now a violation of a plain statute for any civilian to take or publish photographs of any fortifications, whether complete or in process of construction.

"The war department regards the enforcement of this law as absolutely essential and my instructions are emphatic in this case.”