U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, rebuked by President Carter last week for saying that there were "hundreds, maybe even thousands" of political prisoners in the United States, has asserted that he intends to continue to speak out for the things "that I believe in."
Young said in an interview that his remarks were taken out of context by the press. But he said that if the Carter administration felt that "my pressence is no longer an asset, it wouldn't bother me in the least."
"I'm certainly not, you know, what people's traditional notion of a diplomat happens to be," Young said.
"But I don't represent a country like that. I became a diplomat and was appointed to this position because I was politically active in a human rights movement, and in an anti-war movement, and because I fought for the things that I believe in, and I - did not fight to be a diplomat.
"Whether I'm a diplomat or not, I am going to continue to fight in any way I know short of violence for the things that I believe in. And I really don't care what people think about it. The only thing that's important is that they think.
"And if I am a wrong kind of diplomat, maybe diplomats for the last 50 years should have been making people think a little more and we might not have had some of the trouble that we've had for the last half century."
Young made remarks in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. The transcript was made available here yesterday.
Although he acknowledged that he had accepted the President's rebuke over what Young called his overstatement on U.S. political prisoners, he said his basic point has not been challenged:
"One of the interesting things about everything that's happened so far is that I get very little argument, or challenge, on the validity of what I really say. I get questions about whether a diplomat should say it, or I get questions about, you know, other people getting mad and the political impact of my making certain statements, but usually I have taken into consideration most of those things before I say something."
Young blamed reporters for his bad press recently. He said his remark about U.S. political prisoners "came out on the 12th page of a 28 page interview and in the context of that 28 page interview it made sense. Lifted out of context in a wire service story, it was ridiculous."
He said the next day he was asked to comment on it while on his way to an appointment. "I was asked about being impeached, and I said, "I'm sorry, I'm busy, you know, I just have to go on'."
The reporter, Young said asked, "What will say? I said, "Well, I don't know, say what you please.' The headline ended up, 'Young dares Congress to impeach up'. Now with the problems of young inexperienced reporters, the problems of language translation back and forth, the problem of publication and selling newspapers, those have to be somebody's else's problems."
He said he tried "not to worry the president." Perhaps, he said, "I should talk to him more, but I think there's some advantage in my preserving my freedom. It gives him also the freedom to repudiate me, not to be responsible for what I say, or to agree with me.But it's well, it's something I talked with him about before I accepted the job, and I hope it works."
He has learned, he said, "to roll with the punches and I know, I think, how our press system works. I remember the first statements that Martin Luther King made about recognition of the People's Republican of China.
"There was a greater storm than anything I've ever experienced. But nobody ever said he was wrong. They just said a civil rights leader shouldn't talk that way. He is a minister, what does he know about foreign policy. But history has proven that he was right."