Jonathan Pollard's parole restrictions to expire next week unless extended

It is up to the Justice Department to renew Pollard's strict parole conditions by the time his five year parole is up.

Jonathan and Esther Pollard outside the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York City (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jonathan and Esther Pollard outside the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York City
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Neither Jonathan Pollard nor his lawyers have been told by the US Justice Department whether his strict parole conditions will be relaxed on November 21, when he completes his fifth year of parole, sources close to the Israeli agent said Thursday.
Pollard’s parole conditions since he was released from prison five years ago require him to wear an electronic GPS ankle bracelet at all times, to be subjected to unfettered monitoring and inspection of his computers and prevent him from leaving his New York home before 7 a.m. or returning after 7 p.m.
It is up to the Justice Department to renew the conditions by the time the five years are up, or they are presumed to expire immediately. Such a decision would likely be made in consultation with the US intelligence community.
Pollard has reason for concern that the conditions will be renewed because he still has 10 years left of his life sentence. It was given before life sentences in America were reduced from 45 years to the 30 that he served. Parole conditions lasting five years are considered standard procedure.
“Under normal circumstances – that is, with any other prisoner, including spies for enemy nations, drug dealers, etc. – the five-year marker would have significance,” a source close to the Pollard said. “Provided that there were five years of good conduct, it would be honored immediately. But not for Israel’s agent. Nothing in this case has ever been handled according to normative legal practice.”
The parole conditions have been especially difficult on Pollard since his wife, Esther, began treatments for breast cancer. The lack of knowledge about whether the conditions will be renewed or whether he would be able to leave New York and move to Israel has increased tension.
There is also an outside chance that US President Donald Trump could intervene to commute Pollard’s sentence before he leaves office as a final gesture of goodwill to Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Spokesmen for both Trump and Netanyahu declined to comment on that possibility.
Trump has granted fewer pardons and commutations than other presidents. In his four years in office, 41 people have received pardons or commutations, 88% of whom had a personal connection to the president, The New York Times reported this week.
By contrast, in his two terms, former president Barack Obama granted executive clemency to 1,927 individuals convicted of federal crimes. Traditionally, US presidents grant pardons just ahead of Thanksgiving, which this year is on November 26.
Omri Nahmias and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.