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Federal judge unseals 8 more Rosenberg grand jury transcripts

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Tuesday ordered the federal government to release eight more grand jury transcripts from the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg espionage case [trial transcript, PDF; JURIST backgrounder]. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein [official profile] emphasized the historical value of the testimony, given in 1950 and 1952 by witnesses who either did not consent to the release or could not be located. The ruling, which the government may appeal within two months, clears the way for testimony from all but three witnesses to be unsealed. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

In January, George Washington University's National Security Archive petitioned the court [text, PDF; memorandum, PDF] for the release of the transcripts, arguing that "The overwhelming historical interest outweighs any secrecy interests that may have survived." Last month, Hellerstein ordered the disclosure of 36 witnesses' testimony [JURIST report] while denying the archive's request [New York Times report] to unseal the testimony of Ethel Rosenberg's brother and key witness David Greenglass [profile], who objected to the release. The Rosenbergs were found guilty [verdict transcript] in 1953 on charges of violating US espionage statutes [50 USC 4 materials]. They were sentenced to death and executed the same year.

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