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The National Security Archive and Historical Associations Win Lawsuit for David Greenglass Testimony

Federal Judge Rules Against Government's Attempt to Keep Grand Jury Records Secret

Documents Likely to Show Greenglass Perjury and Prosecutorial Misconduct; Brother Testified Against Sister Ethel Rosenberg, Saved His Wife

Posted - May 19, 2015

For more information, contact:
Tom Blanton 202/994-7000
Lauren Harper, Associate FOIA Project Director 202/994-7045

Read the Opinion

Opinion and Order Unsealing Grand Jury Testimony of David Greenglass and Max Elichter


Previous Postings

National Security Archive and Historical Associations File Petition To Open Key Remaining Rosenberg Grand Jury Records
December 2, 2014

David Greenglass' False Grand Jury Testimony Against his Sister Ethel Rosenberg "The Smoking Gun" in Espionage Case, Still Classified
October 16, 2014

More Cold War Espionage Transcripts Unsealed
October 24, 2008

Rosenberg Grand Jury Files Released
September 11, 2008


Related Documents

Renewed Petition for an Order Directing Release of Remaining Grand Jury Minutes and Testimony Before the Special Grand Jury Convened in 1950-51 Pertaining to the Indictment of and Conviction of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg - 08 Civ. 6599 (AKH)

Second Supplemental Declaration of Bruce Craig, Ph.D.

Declaration of Brad Snyder

Proof of Death of Max Elichter on April 28, 2010

Petitioners' Reply Brief July 14, 2008


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Opinion and Order Unsealing Grand Jury Testimony of David Greenglass and Max Elichter

Washington, D.C., May 19, 2015 - The National Security Archive together with leading U.S. historical associations today won a petition for the release of key remaining grand jury records from the prosecution of accused spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were indicted in 1951, convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union, and executed in 1953. In today's ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein dismissed the Government's argument that the release would rekindle antipathy towards the Greenglass family, and found, "The requested records are critical pieces of an important moment in our nation's history. The time for the public to guess what they contain should end." The petition was initially filed on December 2, 2014, in New York City.

The key grand jury testimony at issue in today's win comes from Ethel Rosenberg's brother, David Greenglass, who objected to any release of his testimony in 2008, when the Archive and the historical associations won the opening of almost all the other witness statements before the grand jury, including those of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The 2008 release "cast significant doubt on the key prosecution charge used to convict Ethel Rosenberg at the trial and sentence her to death."

FBI records supported the case for doubt, and showed David, and his wife Ruth, waited until just ten days before to trial to report that Ethel typed up the information David obtained from his job at the Los Alamos for passing to Julius Rosenberg. This omission raised questions as to why Greenglass did not report Ethel's treasonous behavior earlier.

Police photos of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (Source: Exhibits from the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Case File, 03/13/1951 - 03/27/1951)

On the condition that he be paid for his story, David Greenglass agreed to give New York Times reporter Sam Roberts an interview for what would become Roberts' 2001 book, "The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair." During the course of their sessions, Greenglass admitted to Roberts "he had lied on the witness stand about the single most incriminating evidence against his sister - that she typed his handwritten notes for delivery to the Soviets. Without that testimony, Ethel Rosenberg might well have never been convicted, much less executed."

Greenglass, who justified providing false testimony against his sister in order to protect his wife Ruth for her minor role in the conspiracy, died last October at the age of 92. The release of the Greenlass grand jury testimony won in today's ruling will likely verify that he committed perjury, aided and abetted by the prosecutors, to save his wife.

This ruling will also make available the grand jury testimony of Max Elitcher, a Rosenberg friend who maintained Julius attempted to recruit him as a spy.

Together with the Archive, the petitioners included the American Historical Association, the American Society of Legal History, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Archivists, and journalist Sam Roberts, who authored a biography of Greenglass. Representing the petitioners were Georgetown University Law Center professor David C. Vladeck and Debra L. Raskin of the New York law firm Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, who also authored the original 2008 petitions that opened the previous Rosenberg grand jury records.


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