Federal Prosecutors Agree to Release of Some Rosenberg Grand Jury Records

Responding to a petition filed in January by several leading U.S. historical and archival associations for the release of grand jury records from the 1951 indictment of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, federal prosecutors in New York conceded that a substantial portion of the grand jury materials could be made public after more than 55 years.

In a court filing this week, the government said it would not oppose the release of transcripts and other materials for 35 of the 45 witnesses who testified before the grand jury that in 1951 indicted the Rosenbergs, who were accused of running an espionage ring that passed American atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, convicted of spying, and executed in 1953. The 35 witnesses are either deceased or consented to the disclosure. In its filing, the government agreed that the Rosenberg case is of “significant historical importance” and therefore the materials are covered by a special exception to the longstanding rule that grand jury records must remain secret indefinitely.

The petitioners include the the American Historical Association, the American Society for Legal History, National Security Archive at George Washington University, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Archivists, and New York Times reporter Sam Roberts.

The court is scheduled to consider the release of the testimony on July 22.