Ethel Was Innocent: Witness

Co-defendant admits being spy, calls Julius' secrets 'junk'

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 12, 2008 3:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – A co-defendant of Julius and Ethel  Rosenberg has admitted for the first time that he was a Soviet spy—and that she was innocent. Morton Sobell, 91, passed military secrets to the Communists in World War II when the nations were still allies, he told the New York Times. Sobell, who served 18 years for espionage, said Julius did pass secrets but Ethel, executed with her husband in 1953, was guilty of nothing more than being Mrs. Rosenberg.

Details passed on by Rosenberg were of little value to the Soviets, according to Sobell.  "What he gave them was junk," he said. His revelations on Ethel's innocence bolster a view widely held by historians. Grand jury transcripts of the case released yesterday appear to confirm that Ethel was executed on perjured evidence from the prosecution.

Demonstrators during the trial of Julius Rosenberg and his wife Ethel, the first US civilians to be executed for espionage.
Demonstrators during the trial of Julius Rosenberg and his wife Ethel, the first US civilians to be executed for espionage.   (Magnum Photos)
In this 1951 file photo, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are shown during their trial for espionage in New York City.
In this 1951 file photo, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are shown during their trial for espionage in New York City.   (AP Photo/File)
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed in 1953 for passing atomic secrets to the Soviets.
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed in 1953 for passing atomic secrets to the Soviets.   (Archive Photos)
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