Jonathan Pollard lost a legal effort today to overturn the tight probation conditions imposed when he was released in November after serving 30 years in prison. The decision today was made by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan, who refused to make changes to the requirements imposed by the U.S. Parole Commission that he wear an electronic tracking device and submit his work computer to monitoring.
Since his release last year, Pollard — a former US intelligence analyst who shared classified secrets with Israel — has been living in New York City under very strict parole conditions. He petitioned the US Parole Commission to stop the monitoring of his and any potential employer’s computer — something that caused a job offer as a research analyst to be rescinded — and to remove the GPS monitoring ankle bracelet, which he claimed was causing him to have health problems and to violate the Shabbos and Yomim Tovim.
Intelligence officials, such as Jennifer L. Hudson, a senior official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and DNI Director James Clapper, issued their own statements opposing to the easing of the restrictions. Clapper had said, “Mr. Pollard was convicted to conspiring to deliver national defense information to a foreign government…IC elements have confirmed that certain information compromised by Mr. Pollard remains currently and properly classified at the Top Secret and Secret levels…the unauthorized disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security…”
Pollard’s lawyers had written a letter to the US Parole Commission, which stated, “Even assuming some information is still ‘classified’ as a practical matter, it is extremely unlikely that Mr. Pollard remembers, or could possibly remember, the details of 30-year old information to an extent that it could be of any value to anyone.”
The lawyers argued that current parole conditions would feasibly not prevent Pollard from disclosing sensitive information, “even though he has no such information and has not intention of jeopardizing his freedom.”
“There simply is no relationship between the underlying offense and the need to monitor Mr. Pollard’s whereabouts, where the commission’s supposed concern is a conversation that could theoretically occur anywhere,” they wrote. “Mr. Pollard’s ability to disclose supposedly confidential information could occur at any time of day. And the monitoring of Mr. Pollard’s computer use would not prevent him from disclosing the classified information in person, over the phone, or via regular mail.”
Judge Forrest’s ruling today, in rejecting Pollard’s habeus corpus, was based on the grounds that her court did not have the authority to overrule a U.S. Parole Commission decision, she said.
In 1987 — despite entering into a plea agreement with the US government and pleading guilty to one count of providing defense information to a foreign government — Pollard was handed down the maximum punishment and sentenced to life imprisonment. Prominent US officials — such as former CIA director James Woolsey and former US secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger — called for Pollard’s unusually harsh sentence to be commuted. On November 20, 2015, following a 30-year prison term — and what some suspect was the Obama administration’s attempt to placate Israel over the Iran nuclear deal — Pollard was released.
Aside from having his computer activity and physical movement monitored, Pollard has a strict curfew and is forbidden from leaving the US for five years. This restriction is reportedly aimed at preventing him from going to Israel, where he granted citizenship by the Knesset during his incarceration.
Forrest argued today that the commission had a rational basis for imposing the conditions, such as Pollard’s expressed desire to leave the United States for Israel, where his wife lives and where he was granted citizenship while in prison.
Andy Heller – Matzav.com Newscenter, The Algemeiner Journal contributed to this report.