For media inquiries contact Amber Black, Communications Director, at (413) 529-0063 x 203, or email@example.com.
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Updates on the Campaign to Exonerate Ethel Rosenberg
(scroll down the page for press-ready photos)
- Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) sends letter to President Obama urging consideration of the request to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg (01.10.17).
(Excerpted - full letter here.)
“I am writing on behalf of my constituent, Robert Meeropol, and his family, to request that provide a thorough review of their request that you issue a proclamation exonerating their mother, Ethel Rosenberg…I ask that you give every appropriate consideration to the request of Mr. Meeropol and his family, and provide a swift response to their concerns.”
- Senator Edward Markey (MA) sends letter to President Obama urging consideration of the request to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg (01.13.17).
(Excerpted - full letter here.)
“I write concerning the request of brother Michael and Robert Meeropol that you issue a proclamation declaring that the conviction of their mother, Ethel Rosenberg, on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage, was unjust and that her execution in 1953 was wrongful...Evidence that has surfaced since Ethel Rosenberg's conviction and execution raises doubt that she received a fair trial...the facts and circumstances suggest that a re-examination of Ethel Rosenberg's historic case is warranted.”
- Congressman Richard E. Neal (1st District, MA, Dean of the MA and New England delegations) sends letter to President Obama calling on him to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg (12.21.16).
(Excerpted - full letter here.)
“As history has revealed, Ethel Rosenberg was not the actor in concert that was portrayed by the U.S. government. Indeed a significant body of evidence points to the use of perjured statements to leverage the target of the investigation, Ethel’s husband Julius…
To let stand a conviction based on perjury, improper judicial ex-parte communication and witness tampering is fundamentally antagonistic to the principals of our justice system…
In light of this significant body of evidence, I strongly urge you to proclaim the improper treatment of Ethel Rosenberg and her offensive treatment by our government…”
- Seton Hall Law School Center for Policy and Research releases scathing report (12.14.16) detailing the miscarriage of justice in the arrest, prosecution, and execution of Ethel Rosenberg, entitled "The Government's Hostage: The Conviction and Execution of Ethel Rosenberg."
The report notes: "The conclusion in the July 17, 1950 FBI memo, stating that the evidence against Ethel was insufficient to warrant prosecution, remained true throughout her arrest, prosecution, conviction, and execution.
The reason for her prosecution seems clear: Ethel was executed because she refused to cooperate with the Government to help convict her husband, Julius. Ethel was merely a pawn used for leverage in the government’s attempt to build a case against Julius Rosenberg."
- Former MA governor Michael Dukakis calls on President Obama to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg, 12.09.16 (in the model of Dukakis' own 1977 proclamation regarding Sacco & Vanzetti)
(Excerpted - full statement here)
"Today, I urge President Obama...heed the request of Robert and Michael Meeropol, the sons Ethel Rosenberg; acknowledge that Ethel’s conviction was unjust and her execution was wrongful; and issue an appropriate Presidential proclamation to that effect.
Ethel’s execution occurred amidst a climate of intense national fear that cost countless individuals their reputations, livelihoods, and in the case of Ethel Rosenberg, her life itself.
An enormous body of evidence - including U.S. government files, grand jury testimony, and other third-party sources - demonstrates that Ethel Rosenberg was not a spy, and that the government knew this at the time of her trial and execution. The charges against Ethel and the threat of the death penalty were meant to intimidate her and use her, in the government’s own words, as 'a lever' to force her husband to cooperate with the prosecution."
The Rosenberg case provides a compelling lesson about the denial of justice and due process in times of hysteria, and the abuse of government power against politically unpopular groups – a lesson that remains alarmingly relevant today, with Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism still infecting our criminal justice system, electoral politics, and public policy.
A presidential proclamation or other action making this connection would not just provide a measure of justice for Ethel Rosenberg and her family, but would make this important political point at a particularly crucial moment in our history. At a time when there is discussion of using the internment of Japanese-American citizens as a model for a national Muslim registry; and when “watchlists” of “academic" and political enemies are being publicly touted, the echoes of the McCarthy era are unmistakable, and the dangers of allowing these sentiments to go unchallenged and unchecked are grave."
- ACLU of MA calls for Ethel's exoneration in the Civil Liberties Minute 12.09.16: "The government sent Ethel Rosenberg to death even though they knew she was innocent" (Listen to the full statement here.)
- Congressman James P. McGovern (2nd District, MA) calls on President Obama to exonerate Ethel, 11.30.16
(Excerpted - full letter here.) 'I know that you recognize a Trump presidency threatens to revive Enemies Lists, and dangerous - even deadly - political targeting of our fellow citizens that may echo or surpass the worst of such times in our nation’s past. In June of this year, reacting to Trump’s hateful rhetoric against Muslims after the Pulse nightclub shootings, you commented: 'That’s not the America we want, it does not reflect our democratic ideals. We’ve gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear and came to regret it.'
Ethel Rosenberg’s politically motivated fate was one of those shameful moments. A proclamation by you, declaring her conviction was unjust and her execution was wrongful, would be a powerful repudiation of the scapegoating and witch-hunting that took place in the McCarthy Era and threatens our nation and its citizens again.
I am proud to be one of the 40,000 people to date who have signed the Meeropol brothers’ petition asking you to act. I encourage you to issue a proclamation modeled after that which Massachusetts Governor Dukakis issued in 1977 regarding Sacco and Vanzetti, a copy of which is enclosed, or take other action that would have similar effect."
(Excerpted. Full editorial here.) “Recent Republican evocations of Japanese-American internment camps and talk of reviving the House Un-American Activities Committee to fight terrorism are worrisome reminders that this nation may again turn darkly toward a series of injustices in the name of justice. More than ever, what happened to Ethel Rosenberg, wrongly branded as a traitor and sent to her death because of her political beliefs, should haunt America.”
(Excerpted. Full statement here.) “In our name, a woman, a mother was murdered. Everyone now admits she never did what she was accused of doing. That the government concocted false evidence and witnesses to convict her. This wrongful execution was a crime committed in our name, by our government, during a time of Red Scares and those in power manipulating the fears of an American public who have always been so easy to manipulate. Get us scared about anything and we are quick to fall into line and do what we are told.
Ethel Rosenberg was a victim of this mass hysteria, this "scoundrel time" as Lillian Hellman called it.
Mr. President, it is now time to right this wrong. It is time to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg.”
(Excerpted. Full statement here. Photos of the visit here, credit "Alan Heath/courtesy of Rosenberg Fund for Children.") "There is now no question that the U.S. government—fueled by the hysteria of McCarthyism—encouraged false testimony and wrongly killed our parents. Even Roy Cohn, the red-baiting McCarthy aid and former mentor to President-elect Trump, admitted this...
We don’t want reparations, such as were given to the Japanese-American victims of internment. We don’t want a pardon, because that would imply that our mother committed a crime. We just want President Obama to issue a statement, exonerating Ethel Rosenberg."
- Michael and Robert Meeropol's letter & enclosures to President Obama 11.28.16
Current Press Releases
Sons of Ethel Rosenberg Ask President Obama to Exonerate Her
On Thursday (Dec. 1) they will appear at the White House gates,as they did 63 years ago. Evidence shows their mother was wrongfully convicted and executed.
** Photo opportunity at 11 a.m. on Pennsylvania Ave., in the vicinity of
the guard booth and press gate in front of the White House **
Photo of Ethel’s sons Robert and Michael (Rosenberg) Meeropol, in front of the White House in 1953, is available at www.rfc.org/michaelrobertwhitehouse1953.
Robert and Michael Meeropol's 11.28.16 request to President Obama and Congressman Jim McGovern's (2nd District, MA) 11.30.16 supporting letter to President Obama are available at www.rfc.org/obamaletter.
To schedule an interview with Michael and Robert Meeropol contact Amber Black, Rosenberg Fund for Children: (413) 529-0063, (413) 210-1369, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 25, 2016 - On June 14, 1953, when they were six and 10-year-old children, Robert and Michael Rosenberg traveled to the White House and tried to give a letter to President Eisenhower. (1953 photo of Robert and Michael at White House available at www.rfc.org/michaelrobertwhitehouse1953.)
The letter asked Eisenhower to halt the execution of their parents. He did not. (An image of the letter is available at https://www.rfc.org/clemencyrallyflyer.) As a result, five days later a tragedy occurred: At Sing Sing Prison, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were electrocuted.
Over the past six decades, an overwhelming body of evidence has proven that Ethel’s fate in particular, was an example of government overreach during a time of national hysteria. As a recent 60 Minutes episode illustrated (www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-brothers-rosenberg-cold-war-spying), new information from grand jury testimony, KGB files, U.S. government files, and witness statements make it clear that Ethel’s conviction for conspiracy to commit espionage was built on false evidence created by government prosecutors—including the now-infamous lawyer to Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump, Roy Cohn.
The Soviet spies who did in fact pass atomic secrets to the Soviets received only modest jail sentences—not death. Julius Rosenberg was not involved in passing atomic secrets, and Ethel Rosenberg was not a spy at all; she was charged merely to pressure her husband into confessing. As one government official said later in reference to Ethel, “she called our bluff.” (For more information on the facts behind the case, go to http://www.rfc.org/exoneratefactsheet.)
63 years later, on Thursday, December 1, at 11:00 a.m., the sons of Ethel Rosenberg will try again. Robert (age 69) and Michael Meeropol (age 73), retired professionals who took their adoptive parents’ surname, will present another letter at the White House, this time to President Obama. Their packet will include background information supporting the request to the President to issue a proclamation that exonerates Ethel Rosenberg. (They aren’t seeking a pardon, because that implies Ethel was guilty.)
The brothers will also bear a letter from Congressman James McGovern (2nd District, MA) to President Obama, supporting the Meeropols’ request, and the November 24, 2016 Boston Globe full-page editorial calling on the President to act (http://bit.ly/2guaTrT). They also will present the signatures of more than 40,000 other people – including filmmaker and social critic Michael Moore, and activists and intellectuals Angela Davis and Noam Chomsky – from the brothers’ petition hosted at www.rfc.org/ethel, and also at MoveOn.org and Change.org (https://www.change.org/p/president-obama-exonerate-our-mother-ethel-rosenberg) - the source of more than 25,000 of the signatures.
While in the capitol, the Meeropol brothers will also comment on the connections they see between the anti-Muslim and anti-minority hatred today, and the anti-communist hysteria that led to the wrongful execution of their mother. They will speak about their parents’ case as not only a shameful page in our nation’s past that needs correcting, but as an example of what can happen to a nation overcome with prejudice, fear, and hate.
President Obama said in June of 2016, “We've gone through moments in our history when we acted out of fear—and we came to regret it. We've seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens. And it has been a shameful part of our history.”
The U.S. government has apologized for other shameful incidents, such as the internment of Japanese-Americans…a mass violation of civil rights which is in the news again, having recently been suggested as a model for a proposed Muslim registry under the incoming administration.
The government has never, however, corrected its mistreatment of Ethel Rosenberg. The children of Ethel Rosenberg, as well as tens of thousands of their supporters, call on President Obama to correct this wrong. “If we believe in justice,” says Robert Meeropol, “we must show the world that when our government fakes evidence and kills people, it will eventually be held accountable.”
Adds his older brother, Michael, “there is no more fitting time than the present for President Obama to set the record straight and make this statement about the dangerous effects of government overreach and mass hysteria.”
The Meeropol brothers will present their letter at the guard booth at the press entrance on the North Side of the White House along Pennsylvania Ave.; offer a brief photo opportunity recreating their 1953 visit to the same spot; and answer questions from the press, at 11:00 am on Thursday, December 1st.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Robert and Michael Meeropol contact: Amber Black
Communications Director, Rosenberg Fund for Children, (413) 529-0063 or (413) 210-1369 or email@example.com
Press-Ready Photos (all photos credited "courtesy of Rosenberg Fund for Children")
(Click on photos or links for high resolution versions)
Michael (l) and Robert Meeropol at White House 12.01.16, holding photo of themselves (with grandmother, Sophie Rosenberg), at same spot on June 14, 1953, five days before their parents Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed.
Robert (age 6), Michael (age 10) and grandmother Sophie Rosenberg, with David and Emily Alman (co-founders of the National Committee to Secure Justice in the Rosenberg Case), at Washington DC Rally for the Rosenbergs, June 14, 1953
Exonerate Ethel Background Information
- The Facts About Ethel Rosenberg
- The petition to President Obama to Exonerate Ethel Rosenberg
- High Profile Petition Signers
- Recent Press Coverage
- Biography of Robert Meeropol
- Rosenberg Case Summary
Rosenberg Fund for Children Background Information
- Biography of Jennifer Meeropol
- Rosenberg Fund for Children Mission Statement and Background
- Rosenberg Fund for Children Fact Sheet
- Boards & Staff
Archived Press Releases
CBS' 60 Minutes Details Ethel Rosenberg's Wrongful Execution;
Sons Ask White House for Presidential Proclamation & Launch Exoneration Petition
October 17, 2016:
The 60 Minutes segment on Sunday, October 16, 2016, “The Brothers Rosenberg,” further confirmed that Ethel Rosenberg was wrongfully convicted and executed. It summarized and humanized the huge body of objective evidence that has accumulated over the past several decades.
The show reiterated that:
- Ethel Rosenberg was not a spy for the Soviet Union
- her husband was not involved in passing atomic secrets
- the atomic information that was shared with the Soviets was passed by other people, primarily high level scientists
- evidence against Ethel was faked
- Ethel’s brother - the chief prosecution witness against her - was pressured by the government to lie under oath, providing the perjured testimony that led to her conviction and execution.
As Michael Meeropol, the older brother, said in the 60 Minutes interview, his mother Ethel was “collateral damage” of McCarthyism. As an assistant attorney general at the time told the F.B.I., there was “insufficient evidence” to charge Ethel, but she could be used “as a lever against her husband.”
Robert and Michael Meeropol, the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, have therefore begun the process of asking President Obama to right this historic wrong. They are requesting a Presidential proclamation that Ethel Rosenberg’s conviction was unjust and her execution was wrongful.
The brothers are also calling on the American people to join them by signing the petition to exonerate their mother at rfc.org/ethel.
As younger son Robert Meeropol noted at the close of the interview, this effort is not just of personal significance: “The fact that the government facilitated the invention of evidence in order to convict someone of a capital crime should be of concern for everyone.”
Links to the the petition, as well as a fact sheet of objective, third-party evidence explaining the case, are below.
Ethel's sons Robert and Michael Meeropol, and her granddaughter Jennifer Meeropol, are available for interviews. (Jennifer leads the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which is coordinating the petition campaign. She can speak to why this campaign is relevant today in this moment when our national news is filled with McCarthy era-esque headlines, and groups from Muslims to immigrants to Black Lives Matter activists are being targeted.)
For more information, or to arrange media interviews contact Amber Black at (413) 529-0063 or firstname.lastname@example.org. or see:
- Petition to President Obama to Exonerate Ethel
- Campaign Overview
- The Facts About Ethel Rosenberg
- Press Coverage
- High Profile Signers (photos and statements)
Ethel Rosenberg Receives Two Honors in New York City on Her 100th Birthday:
- NYC Council Declares "government wrongfully executed Ethel Rosenberg"
- "Ethel Rosenberg Day of Justice in the Borough of Manhattan" declared by Manhattan Borough President
For immediate release
For information contact:
Amber Black, Rosenberg Fund for Children
September 28, 2015, New York, NY - At 11:00 am Eastern, on September 28, 2015, in a ceremony on the steps of City Hall, New York City Council Members gathered, with three generations of Ethel Rosenberg's descendants present, to issue a stunning proclamation in Ethel's honor, stating in part, "...the government wrongfully executed Ethel Rosenberg; now therefore BE IT KNOWN: That we, the undersigned Members of the New York City Council, honor the life and memory of Ethel Rosenberg in observance of the 100th anniversary of her birth." See full proclamation by Members of the New York City Council here.
"Ethel Rosenberg was wrongfully executed in 1953 which resulted in her two young children becoming orphans," said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). "Although nothing can erase this terrible loss of life, I am pleased to join my colleagues in the Council in posthumously acknowledging Ms. Rosenberg on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of her birth. It is my hope that this tribute will restore some dignity to the memory of this much-maligned New Yorker and her family."
In addition, Gale Brewer, the Manhattan Borough President, bestowed a remarkable honor of her own on Ethel, proclaiming, "...I, Gale A. Brewer, do hereby recognize the injustice suffered by Ethel Rosenberg and her family, and on the occasion of her 100th birthday on Monday, September 28th, 2015, proclaim 'Ethel Rosenberg Day of Justice in the Borough of Manhattan.'" See full proclamation by Borough President Brewer here.
"...To have so many Council Members of my parents' hometown - my hometown, my brother's hometown - acknowledge our mother's achievements and note that she was wrongfully executed is a dream come true. Today, a major elected institution of this great city and Manhattan's borough President have taken important steps towards acknowledging a terrible injustice. Next, it is time for the Federal Government to step up to do the same." - excerpt of statement of Robert Meeropol, son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
"Let me echo Rob’s thanks to the members of the City Council, the Manhattan Borough President and the Public Advocate for recognizing the injustice that was done to our mother and, as a result, to her entire family.
We also want to make it clear that the unjust prosecution and execution of our mother damaged our country as well...We believe that the issuance of these proclamations implicitly calls upon the federal government to take corrective action. We would like to make this request explicitly. Therefore, we call upon Attorney General Lynch and President Obama to acknowledge the injustice done to Ethel Rosenberg back in 1953 as a way of learning from our past in the hope that similar injustices will be avoided in the future."- excerpt of statement of Michael Meeropol, son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
For information or interviews contact Amber Black at the Rosenberg Fund for Children, (413) 529-0063, email@example.com
New York City Councilors to Issue Proclamation Honoring Ethel Rosenberg
on her 100th Birthday, September 28th, 2015
September 24, 2015, Easthampton, MA: On Monday, September 28th, 2015, at 11:00 am, Members of the New York City Council including Council Member Dromm, will issue a public proclamation on the steps of New York City Hall, honoring Ethel Rosenberg on what would have been her 100th birthday. The public, and members of the media, are invited to attend.
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg’s sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol (formerly Rosenberg), who were 10 and 6 at the time of their parents’ execution, will be present to take part in this historic event, along with other members of the Meeropol family. Michael and Robert Meeropol will speak as part of the ceremony and take questions from the media until the conclusion of the event at 12:00 noon.
Ethel Rosenberg was executed along with her husband, Julius Rosenberg, on June 19th, 1953 after being convicted, at the height of the Red Scare-McCarthy period, of giving what was called “the secret of the Atomic Bomb” to the Soviet Union. The recently released grand jury testimony of Ethel Rosenberg’s chief accusers, David and Ruth Greenglass, provided powerful proof that Ethel Rosenberg’s conviction was based on their perjuries. Ethel and Julius were natives and life-long residents of New York City, where they resided at the time of their arrests.
For information or interviews contact Amber Black at the Rosenberg Fund for Children, (413) 529-0063, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Meeropol (Younger Son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg) Reacts to Release of
His Uncle, David Greenglass’ Grand Jury Testimony
July 15, 2015, Easthampton, MA - I applaud the release by the National Security Archives of the Grand Jury testimony of David Greenglass and Max Elitcher. I want to thank attorneys David C. Vladeck and Debra L. Raskin for advocating for the release of this testimony and federal District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein for granting our petition. They have done a service by bringing this testimony to the public. Since my brother and I and others launched the effort to reopen the Rosenberg Case in 1973, we have maintained that the public and family members deserve every bit of information that exists about the case. Today, thanks to this just released information, we have a more complete picture of my parents’ case than ever before.
Some of David Greenglass’ statements to the Grand Jury echo those of his wife, Ruth Greenglass. Ruth’s testimony, released in 2008, did not mention my mother Ethel typing notes from the Greenglasses’ alleged September 25th, 1945 espionage meeting with the Ethel and Julius—a supposed meeting that was the key trial testimony to doom my mother. As cooperating witnesses, under oath, neither David nor Ruth Greenglass mentioned this key evidence against my mother during their Grand Jury appearances, despite swearing to it at trial the following year. That trial testimony resulted in my mother’s execution.
But David’s Grand Jury testimony is even more stunning than Ruth’s; in addition to the absence of any discussion of Ethel typing any material, he states “I said before and say it again, honestly this is a fact: I never spoke with my sister about this at all.”
Shocking as this is, I believe a second omission in David’s testimony is just as important because it guts the governments case against both my parents. The heart of the government’s case was that my parents met with the Greenglasses on September 25, 1945 at the Rosenberg apartment in New York City. At that meeting, the Greenglasses claimed, David gave a sketch of the cross-section of the atomic bomb to my father, and my mother typed David’s accompanying hand-written notes. At trial, the prosecutor claimed this drawing gave away the most important secret known to mankind—the so-called secret of the atomic bomb—and in summarizing the case against Ethel, dramatically stated that as Ethel, “hit the keys, she struck blow upon blow against her country.” In pronouncing the death sentence, Judge Kaufman blamed my parents for the Korean War.
What many missed in 2008 was that Ruth’s Grand Jury testimony not only omitted Ethel’s typing, it made no mention whatsoever of the September 25th, 1945 meeting. From today’s release, we know that while David testified to the Grand Jury about giving sketches to Julius, he doesn’t mention the specific date or the Rosenberg apartment: instead, he says he met Julius in Manhattan in the fall of 1945 and, when pressed about the date, agrees that it might have been September or October. Thus, there is no evidence, other than the Greenglasses’ later, much-evolved trial testimony, that a September 25th, 1945 espionage meeting at the Rosenberg apartment took place.
More than 60 years after my parents’ execution, it is long past time for the government to admit that Ethel Rosenberg was not a spy and that Julius was not an atomic spy. I call for the record to be set straight once and for all:
- My father engaged in non-atomic military espionage for the Soviet Union. He did not pass the secret of the atomic bomb to anyone.
- My mother did not conspire to commit espionage. The government knew this; colluded with the Greenglasses to convict her; and executed her anyway.
- July 15, 2015 Rosenberg Case Grand Jury Files Release
- Opinion and Order Unsealing Grand Jury Testimony of David Greenglass (sister of Ethel Rosenberg) and Max Elitcher
- Sep 11, 2008 Rosenberg Grand Jury Files Release, including Ethel Rosenberg, Julius Rosenberg, and Ruth Greenglass (wife of David Greenglass and sister-in-law of Ethel and Julius)
- Searchable Catalog of National Archives