Washington, DC, July 22, 2008 - After hearing arguments today, a federal court in New York decided that the government must release most of the sealed grand jury records from the 1951 indictment of alleged Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In response to a petition filed by the National Security Archive and others, the government conceded in a June filing that the Rosenberg case is of "significant historical importance" and therefore said it would not contest the release of testimony of witnesses who have passed away or consented to the disclosure.
On the basis of the government's concession, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said today that he will order release of the testimony of 36 witnesses. Judge Hellerstein reserved ruling on three additional witnesses that appear to be deceased and four witnesses that the government said it could not locate, and ordered the government to make greater efforts to confirm the status of these witnesses.
With regard to several living witnesses that objected to release of their testimony, including David Greenglass, Ethel Rosenberg's brother, Judge Hellerstein said he would deny the petition for release and allow these materials to remain secret. Finally, he suggested that grand jury materials from the related proceeding against Abraham Brothman and Miriam Moskowitz should be released, but said he will wait to rule until the government determines whether the witnesses are dead or consent to release.
Visit the Web site of the National Security Archive for more information about this case and today's posting.