Secret Grand Jury Testimony From Ethel Rosenberg’s Brother Is Released

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg during their 1951 trial  in New York. They were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage – the government claimed they had stolen the secret to the atomic bomb and all but triggered the Korean War. Credit Associated Press

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg during their 1951 trial in New York. They were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage – the government claimed they had stolen the secret to the atomic bomb and all but triggered the Korean War. Credit Associated Press

Sam Roberts writes:

More than six decades later, the prosecution of Ethel Rosenberg remains one of America’s most controversial criminal cases: Her conviction — and eventual execution — for joining in her husband Julius’s espionage conspiracy rested largely on trial testimony from her younger brother.

But in private testimony to a grand jury seven months before the 1951 trial, Mrs. Rosenberg’s brother, David Greenglass, never mentioned involvement by his sister in Mr. Rosenberg’s delivery of atomic secrets to Soviet operatives, according to a grand jury transcript released Wednesday.

While not definitive proof that he lied at trial, Mr. Greenglass’s omission — and his assertion before the grand jury that he had never even discussed espionage with his sister — provides further evidence to Mrs. Rosenberg’s defenders who believe that she was unfairly convicted, and that her brother, under pressure from prosecutors, had doomed her with concocted testimony to spare his own wife from prosecution.

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