Jonathan and Esther Pollard.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard asked a US court of appeals on Tuesday to reverse a district court decision turning down his request to ease a series of strict conditions of his parole from prison.
Jonathan Pollard freed from prison after 30 years
The conditions were imposed on Pollard by his parole commission when he was released from prison in November 2015 after he served 30 years of a life sentence for passing classified information to Israel.
They require him to stay home between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., to be monitored by a GPS device that forces him to violate Shabbat and holidays, and for his computers to be monitored, which has prevented him from being employed.
Pollard’s lawyers, led by Eliot Lauer, wrote in the appeal that instead of enabling Pollard to work at a job consistent with his education and intelligence, the conditions are designed to have the opposite effect and keep Pollard from reintegrating into society.
They argued that Pollard could not possibly remember information he saw before his arrest, and that even if he did, the parole conditions arbitrarily limited his computer usage and not his ability to transfer information by other means.
“In light of the absence of evidence that Pollard accessed information of a type that can be remembered after 31 years, the special conditions are not rationally based, and cannot possibly be motivated by a sincere concern about preventing disclosure,” the lawyers wrote.
They said that unless there is such information, there was no possibility of further criminal conduct.
“The commission has not shown that there is such information,” they wrote.
“There is therefore no basis on which to satisfy the second regulatory requirement."
“Rather, the special conditions serve solely as vindictive punitive measures, cruelly imposed against a man who has served his time as a model prisoner for 30 years, based on the pretext that Pollard is in a position to disclose still-classified information and that the commission is genuinely concerned that might happen.”
To justify special parole conditions, the parole commission was supposed to prove that they were “reasonably related to the nature and circumstances of [the] offense or [the parolee’s] history and characteristics,” and that they are reasonably related to either the need to deter the parolee from criminal conduct, protection of the public from further crimes; or the need to provide the parolee with training or correctional treatment or medical care.
The lawyers warned that the parole commission’s position would enable any government agency to make entirely conclusory determinations that have no factual basis, and to have those determinations insulated from judicial review merely because the commission accepted them as true.
“That is not the law, and should not become the law,” they wrote. “To the contrary, the commission may not base its judgment as to parole on an inaccurate factual predicate.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised Pollard’s fate with US Vice President Mike Pence in Washington last month. Netanyahu asked Ambassador Ron Dermer to handle the issue with the White House.