Newly released grand jury testimony could upend the notion that Ethel Rosenberg was guilty of espionage.
Ethel and her husband Julius Rosenberg were convicted in the most sensational atomic spying case of the cold war in 1951. They were convicted for conspiring to steal secrets about the atomic bomb for the Soviet Union, and were executed in 1953 at New York’s Sing Sing prison.
David Greenglass, Ethel Rosenberg’s brother and a key witness in the case against the Rosenbergs, implicated his sister in the conspiracy just 10 days before the trial. Decades later, Greenglass told reporters that he lied on the stand to protect his wife Ruth. Greenglass died in 2014.
Greenglass was indicted as a co-conspirator and testified for the government that he had given the Rosenbergs research data obtained through his wartime job as an army machinist at Los Alamos, New Mexico, headquarters of the top-secret Manhattan project to build the atomic bomb.
He told of seeing Ethel Rosenberg transcribing the information on a portable typewriter at the Rosenbergs’ New York apartment in 1945 – information that proved crucial in convicting Ethel along with her husband.
But in newly released transcripts of the grand jury testimony given in 1950 – more than six months before he implicated his sister – David Greenglass speaks at length about trading information with his wife Ruth and Julius Rosenberg, but twice insists in the testimony that he has never spoken with Ethel about the matter.