#AceHistoryNews – WASHINGTON(D.C):July.27: The National Security Archive together with leading U.S. historical associations recently won a petition for the release of key remaining grand jury records from the prosecution of accused spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were indicted in 1951, convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union, and executed in 1953. In this ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein dismissed the Government’s argument that the release would rekindle apathy towards the Greenglass family, and found, “The requested records are critical pieces of an important moment in our nation’s history. The time for the public to guess what they contain should end.” The petition was initially filed on December 2, 2014, in New York City.
The key grand jury testimony at issue in today’s win comes from Ethel Rosenberg’s brother, David Greenglass, who objected to any release of his testimony in 2008, when the Archive and the historical associations won the opening of almost all the other witness statements before the grand jury, including those of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The 2008 release “cast significant doubt on the key prosecution charge used to convict Ethel Rosenberg at the trial and sentence her to death.”
FBI records supported the case for doubt, and showed David, and his wife Ruth, waited until just ten days before to trial to report that Ethel typed up the information David obtained from his job at the Los Alamos for passing to Julius Rosenberg. This omission raised questions about why Greenglass did not report Ethel’s treasonous behavior earlier.
On the condition that he be paid for his story, David Greenglass agreed to give New York Times reporter Sam Roberts an interview for what would become Roberts’ 2001 book, “The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair.” During the course of their sessions, Greenglass admitted to Roberts “he had lied on the witness stand about the single most incriminating evidence against his sister — that she typed his handwritten notes for delivery to the Soviets. Without that testimony, Ethel Rosenberg might well have never been convicted, much less executed.”
Greenglass, who justified providing false testimony against his sister in order to protect his wife Ruth for her minor role in the conspiracy, died last October at the age of 92. The release of the Greenlass grand jury testimony won in today’s ruling will likely verify that he committed perjury and prosecutorial misconduct to save his wife.