Judge: Release Rosenberg Spy Case Docs

1951/3/1 #494575: Ethel and Julius Rosenberg during their espionage trial, B&W photo
AP (file)
A federal judge has ordered key secret grand jury testimony released in the 1950s atomic spy trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled Tuesday regarding the testimony of several witnesses whose sealed testimony was taken in 1950 and 1951. He cited the needs of historians.

Federal prosecutors had already agreed to release the records of 35 of the 45 witnesses. Hellerstein's rulings mean testimony from all but three witnesses can be public.

The judge gave the government two months to appeal.

Although they proclaimed their innocence and took the Fifth Amendment in court, the Rosenbergs were convicted in March 1951 of conspiracy to commit espionage, in relation to the passing of atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

Primary evidence against the couple was by David Greenglass (Ethel's brother), a servicemember stationed at Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, and his wife, Ruth. Ruth was granted immunity from prosecution.

The Rosenbergs were executed in 1953.

Their prosecution and alleged guilt was a source of controversy even after their deaths.

In 2001, Greenglass recanted, telling 60 Minutes II that he gave false testimony about his sister at the behest of prosecutors.

Recent court documents revealed that Ruth Greenglass had passed away earlier this year, when requests to open files in the case were held contingent upon the deaths or consent of witnesses.

For more information visit the National Committee To Reopen The Rosenberg Case.