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Seton Hall University

Report on Wrongful Execution of Ethel Rosenberg Featured in The Nation  

Ethel RosenbergLaw Professor Mark Denbeaux's most recent report, "The Government's Hostage: The Conviction and Execution of Ethel Rosenberg," was featured in The Nation, New Jersey Jewish News and, an online news outlet covering Springfield and Western Massachusetts.

Previously, the report was featured on Fox News, NPR's "Morning Edition," the New York Daily News, "Democracy Now" and the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

The Nation article reports:

The campaign for Ethel's exoneration was given a boost recently when the Center for Policy and Research at Seton Hall University Law School in New Jersey released a report provocatively titled "The Government's Hostage: The Conviction and Execution of Ethel Rosenberg." The 25-page report, which is based on an independent investigation led by the director of the center, Professor Mark Denbeaux, withholds judgment about whether Ethel was guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage, the offense for which she was tried, convicted, and executed. The investigators are, however, severely critical of the government's prosecution of Ethel. Among their key conclusions: "the evidence upon which [Ethel's] conviction was based was threadbare," and "Ethel was merely a pawn used for leverage in the government's attempt to build a case against Julius Rosenberg."

The Seton Hall report uses pretrial documents and trial testimony to show how-and why-J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, the US Justice Department, and a team of US Attorneys from the Southern District of New York (one of whom was Roy Cohn) targeted Ethel and pursued her to her death.

The report noted in The Nation uncovered new evidence of "no evidence" in the famed espionage prosecution and ultimate execution of Ethel Rosenberg as students of The Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research discovered a July 1950 FBI memorandum that reports that the government realized it did not have enough evidence to arrest Ethel Rosenberg, but that she could be used as "leverage" to pressure her husband, Julius Rosenberg, into confessing and implicating others.

The report further notes that In January 1951, the US Attorney informed a Congressional Committee that Julius was a tough nut to crack and that the Prosecutor needed to severely threaten Ethel in order to make Julius cooperate. The prosecution seemed confident that the threat of severe punishment for his wife would produce that cooperation. The optimism was unfounded: Julius refused to talk, and the prosecution, having started down this road, promptly developed "evidence," in the form of continually evolving witness statements, that ultimately led to Ethel's execution.

After a painstaking investigation into the evidence against Ethel Rosenberg, the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research concluded that the U.S. government's case against Ethel was basically nonexistent at the outset; even at trial, the continually shifting stories, reflected in the evolution of core witness statements, seriously undermine the credibility of the conviction.

Read the full release and report, "The Government's Hostage: The Conviction and Execution of Ethel Rosenberg."

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