Jonathan Pollard, the former US Navy U.S intelligence officer convicted of one count of spying for an ally, Israel, petitioned a New York judge on Friday to overturn his highly restrictive probation conditions.
In December, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest stated the U.S. Parole Commission has yet to justify why Pollard must wear a GPS monitoring device, which forces him to violate Shabbat and other Jewish holidays, and also submit to have his work computer monitored.
“The information is ridiculously stale, and it’s the type of information that no human being could reasonably recall,” Pollard’s lawyer, Eliot Lauer, told US District Judge Katherine Forrest on Friday.
By leaving the computer restriction in place, Lauer said Pollard was being prevented from taking an investment firm job.
But a prosecutor pointed to a letter by US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stating that documents compromised by Pollard remain classified at the levels of “top secret” and “secret.”
“They do pose a current harm to national security if they are disclosed further,” Assistant US Attorney Rebecca Sol Tinio told the court.
She also said the commission rightly concluded Pollard was a flight risk given he had repeatedly expressed the wish to move to Israel, where his wife lives. Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship in prison and Israel had long pushed for his release. As part of his parole, Pollard must remain in the United States for five years.
If Pollard violates any of these conditions, as the Jerusalem Post noted, he has “the balance of his life sentence – 15 years – hanging like a sword of Damocles over his head.”
Any violation of his parole conditions – which are unusually harsh and restrictive – could send him back to prison for what could well be the rest of his life.
A significant part of the government’s explanation for these measures – that they are meant to ensure he doesn’t disseminate classified materials – doesn’t seem to make much sense.
I previously opined:
A little logic here. If Pollard really knows any classified secrets, how exactly does a GPS bracelet prevent him from spilling such information? The bracelet only tracks his movements; it does not stop Pollard from meeting with whomever he wants within the geographical radius to which he is restricted. The monitoring of his work computer is also preposterous. If Pollard so desired, and if he really retained classified information, he could easily go to an Internet café and send emails to anyone or simply use someone else’s computer or smartphone.
Pollard’s attorney explained in a letter the ridiculousness of the notion that Pollard could even remember classified information.
“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,” his lawyers wrote.
“There is nothing before the commission to indicate that Mr. Pollard ever memorized the documents he delivered, or that he could possibly remember any usable details 30 years later.”
“The special conditions would not have prevented Mr. Pollard from committing his underlying offense, nor would they have aided law enforcement officials in detecting his criminal activity,” they wrote.
“They would similarly have no impact on Mr. Pollard’s ability to disclose any information he might retain today, even though he has no such information and has no intention of jeopardizing his freedom.”
Pollard was paroled on November 20, 2015, after serving 30 years of an unprecedented life sentence in a U.S. prison for espionage on behalf of an ally, Israel.
He worked as a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst and was indicted in 1985 on one count of passing classified information to an ally, Israel. Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment in spite of a plea agreement that was to spare him a life sentence.
He is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. The median sentence for such an offense is two to four years.
As I previously reported:
The unprecedented sentence was largely thought to have been driven by a last-minute secret memorandum from [then-Defense Secretary Caspar] Weinberger, in which he accused Pollard of treason – a crime for which he was never indicted – and claimed Pollard harmed America’s national security.
But even Weinberger, before his death in 2006, said the sentence may be about something else.
Weinberger said in a 2004 interview that the Pollard issue was “a very minor matter, but made very important. … It was made far bigger than its actual importance.”
The U.S. government has never released the full Pollard files to the public and even sentencing judges need to largely rely on general government representations of what is in those documents. Multiple security-cleared lawmakers who have seen the documents have stated the case does not justify Pollard’s unprecedented life sentence.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.