Congressman Neal joins fight to have Ethel Rosenberg exonerated of 1953 spy charges

  • In this Gazette file photo, Jennifer Meeropol and her father Robert Meeropol talk about the proclamation that would declare Ethel Rosenberg’s conviction unjust and wrongful. The push to have President Obama exonerate Rosenberg of charges that she passed details about the atomic bomb to Soviet Union agents is gaining steam. politians and 50,000 petition signers.

  • Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Congressman Richard Neal, D-Springfield, is the latest elected official to endorse the campaign asking President Obama to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg.

Rosenberg and her husband Julius were both executed in 1953 after being convicted of charges that they passed along details about the atomic bomb to Soviet Union agents.

Their children, Michael Meeropol of Cold Spring, New York, and Robert Meeropol of Easthampton, have been trying to clear Ethel Rosenberg’s name with the release of previously sealed testimony revealing her conviction had been based on perjury. That campaign has increased in urgency as the days of Obama’s presidency are running out.

Neal joins former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, Congressman James McGovern, D-Worcester, and 50,000 other people, in calling on Obama to address what they are calling Ethel Rosenberg’s wrongful conviction and execution before Obama leaves office.

In a letter last month to Obama, Neal wrote:

“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.”

Robert Meeropol spoke about the family’s campaign to seek this exoneration from the outgoing president on Wednesday, following a screening of “Heir to an Execution,” a documentary film about Rosenberg. The film was made by Ivy Meeropol, Rosenberg’s granddaughter.

Robert Meeropol also issued a new statement regarding the campaign and petition at www.rfc.org/ethel that he and his brother Michael have aimed at the president asking him to address the federal government’s actions in their mother’s case.

“In light of the support of nearly 50,000 people, including such prominent elected officials as Congressmen Neal and McGovern, and former Governor Dukakis; calls for action from newspaper editorial boards including that of The Boston Globe; and in-depth reporting by Seton Hall School of Law Center for Policy and Research, as well as 60 Minutes, AP, CNN, CBS News, NPR, The Washington Post, Fox News, Democracy Now! and many other media outlets showing my mother was not a spy and the government knew that but orchestrated her arrest and execution simply as leverage against my father, I once again call on President Obama to do the right thing and issue a proclamation or other statement before he leaves office, admitting that the government’s prosecution and execution of my mother was wrongful and unjust.”

Congressman Neal’s full letter to the president, as well as those of Dukakis and McGovern, is available at www.rfc.org/pressreleases, along with the materials that Ethel’s sons have sent to Obama to support their request.

That page also contains a link to the 26-page Seton Hall School of Law Center for Policy and Research report released in December 2016. This report details the findings of their three-year investigation into Rosenberg’s arrest and prosecution. It concludes that the government lacked sufficient evidence against her but arrested her to use her as leverage against her husband. They also conclude that when the ploy failed to elicit cooperation from the Rosenbergs, she was executed along with Julius.