'Soviet Spy' Ethel Rosenberg May Have Been Innocent

Ethel Rosenberg's brother defended her a year before her conviction
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2015 6:52 AM CDT
Secret Testimony: 'Soviet Spy' US Executed in '50s Was Innocent
In this 1951 file photo, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are shown during their trial for espionage in New York.   (AP Photo, File)

The newly released 1950 grand jury testimony of David Greenglass, who helped cement the executions of his brother-in-law and sister Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, offers new evidence that Ethel was innocent in the most intense spying case of the Cold War. Both Rosenbergs were convicted of conspiring to steal atomic secrets for the Soviet Union in 1951 after Greenglass said he saw Ethel transcribing information he gave the Rosenbergs—gained while serving as an Army machinist at the Manhattan Project HQ—on a typewriter in 1945. Both Rosenbergs were sent to the electric chair in 1953, though Greenglass, who spent almost 10 years in prison as a co-conspirator, later admitted he lied. In the 46-page transcript of testimony given six months before Greenglass implicated Ethel, her brother said he never spoke about the data with Ethel, only with Julius and his own wife, Ruth, reports the Guardian.

Greenglass' testimony, ordered released after his death last year and unsealed yesterday, doesn't disprove his later claim, reports the New York Times. He actually noted Ethel was present at key meetings, reports Politico. However, after he described Julius receiving a silver Omega watch from Russian agents and was asked if Ethel ever mentioned commendations, he said, "My sister has never spoken to me about this subject." He said Julius discussed Greenglass staying in the Army to pass on more information, but added, "Honestly, this is a fact: I never spoke to my sister about this at all." "There was never really any solid evidence that she had been involved in any part of espionage," says an author on the subject. "It just confirms this idea that the government was using her, imprisoning her to get at Julius Rosenberg." Some say it was Ruth Greenglass who typed notes for Julius to forward to the Soviets, and her husband lied to protect her. (Read more on David Greenglass.)

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