Pollard protest outside president's residence 370.
(photo credit: Gil Hoffman)
An American soldier was sentenced to 19 years in prison for attempted espionage
and related charges on Monday, giving activists renewed hope that US President
Barack Obama will commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to
the 27 and a half years he has served.
Army Specialist William Colton
Millay, 24, was sentenced late on Monday after a military hearing at Joint Base
Elmendorf- Richardson in Anchorage.
He was stationed there when he was
arrested in October 2011. Federal officials said Millay admitted to trying to
pass on classified information to someone he believed was a Russian
The native of Owensboro, Kentucky, pleaded guilty in March to
attempted espionage, failing to obey regulations, issuing a false statement,
soliciting another to commit espionage and communicating national defense
Although he was sentenced to 19 years in prison, he will
serve 16 years under a plea agreement, with time served in pre-trial confinement
taken into account, federal officials said. He was also demoted to private and
will receive a dishonorable discharge, they said.
working to bring about Pollard’s release said the sentence of Millay, who
intended to harm the United States, was an important reminder of how
disproportionate Pollard’s sentence is. They noted that recently declassified
CIA documents indicated that Pollard, who spied for an ally, did not harm the
“No one disputes America’s right and obligation to punish those who
break US laws, but 28 years is too much considering the shorter sentences
received by people who committed similar and worse crimes,” the Free Pollard
campaign said. “We hope President Obama will answer the requests of top current
and former American officials to commute Pollard’s sentence out of mercy and
Millay was detained after making what prosecutors said were
overtures to a woman he believed was representing the Russian
The woman was actually an agent for the FBI, officials
“Millay betrayed his nation’s trust by attempting to sell
classified national defense information for profit to a foreign nation,” Deirdre
Fike, FBI special agent in charge in Anchorage, said.
According to a
document filed by Millay in the US District Court, where investigative elements
of the case were considered briefly, he met the woman he knew as “Natalia” at a
restaurant in an Anchorage hotel.
Millay told the woman he had access to
information regarding Army electronic systems capable of blocking cellphone-detonated improvised explosive devices.
Millay, who joined
the Army in 2007, had a tour of duty in Iraq from December 2009 to July 2010 and
was assigned to Elmendorf- Richardson in May 2011, officials said.
eight-soldier panel of officers and senior noncommissioned officers imposed the
sentence, US Army officials said.