Lying Brother in Rosenberg Spy Case Dead at 92
David Greenglass testified, falsely, he saw sister Ethel transcribing research data
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 14, 2014 5:58 PM CDT
In this March 12, 1951, file photo, David Greenglass sits in Federal Court in New York in handcuffs.   (Tom Fitzsimmons)
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(Newser) – David Greenglass, who served 10 years in prison for his role in the most explosive atomic spying case of the Cold War and gave testimony that sent his brother-in-law and sister, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, to the electric chair in 1953, has died at 92. Greenglass—who admitted decades later that he lied on the stand about his own sister—died in New York City on July 1, according to the Rosenbergs' sons. After his release from prison in 1960, Greenglass lived under an assumed name in Queens. The Rosenbergs were convicted in 1951 of conspiring to steal secrets about the atomic bomb for the Soviet Union and were executed at New York's Sing Sing prison, insisting to the very end that they were innocent.

Greenglass, indicted as a co-conspirator, testified that he had given the Rosenbergs data obtained through his wartime job as an Army machinist at Los Alamos, headquarters of the project to build the atomic bomb. He told of seeing his sister transcribing the information on a typewriter at the Rosenbergs' New York apartment in 1945. That testimony proved crucial in convicting Ethel and her husband. In 2001, Greenglass was quoted in the book The Brother by New York Times reporter Sam Roberts as saying he had not actually seen Ethel typing and knew of it only from his wife. For the prosecution, however, the typewriter "was as good as a smoking gun," Roberts wrote. Greenglass said he lied to assure leniency for himself and to keep his wife out of prison so she could care for their two children.