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Jonathan Pollard’s lawyers fighting terms of his parole

Attorneys for US-Israeli spy, freed Friday morning after 30-year term, say restrictions make him unemployable

In this still image from video provided by WCBS-TV, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, left, arrives at a federal courthouse in New York with his wife, Esther, to check in at a probation office just hours after he was released from prison on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (Ilana Gold/WCBS-TV via AP)
In this still image from video provided by WCBS-TV, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, left, arrives at a federal courthouse in New York with his wife, Esther, to check in at a probation office just hours after he was released from prison on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (Ilana Gold/WCBS-TV via AP)

The lawyers for Jonathan Pollard are appealing the restrictions placed on the American-Israeli spy upon his release from jail Friday, arguing that they render him unemployable.

According to Israel’s Ynet news website, the lawyers say that the restrictions — among them an anklet for 24-hour GPS tracking and the monitoring of his and any future employer’s computers — are illegal, and that no employer would agree to their computers being monitored in this manner.

Pollard’s attorneys also claim that there is no cause to believe that Pollard will pass on further classified information or commit any other crime, as the data he gleaned is outdated and he can barely recall it, the Walla website reported.

After three decades behind bars, Pollard, now 61, was released early Friday morning from the Butner, North Carolina facility where he has been serving a life sentence for spying on the United States on Israel’s behalf.

Jonathan Pollard is freed from prison after 30 years. November 20, 2015 (Courtesy/Justice for Jonathan Pollard)
Jonathan Pollard is freed from prison after 30 years. November 20, 2015 (Courtesy/Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

He was arrested in 1985 for selling US secrets to Israel, while working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the American Navy. One year later, Pollard pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit espionage and was sentenced to life in prison in 1987.

The Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization confirmed Friday that Pollard had been freed and reunited with his wife, Esther. After exiting the prison before dawn, the Pollards have arrived at the apartment where they will spend the weekend, the organization said in a statement, without specifying their location.

Pollard has said that he would like to move to Israel after his release, a request that has been ruled out by the American authorities as he is required to remain the US for the five years that he is on parole. He is expected to settle in the New York area, and is barred from traveling outside the country, including to Israel, without permission.

Under the terms of his parole, the former US Navy analyst is also not allowed to give interviews to the media, and no rallies or other public events were apparently to be held to mark the occasion.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the release, saying he had “longed for this day.”

“The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard,” the prime minister said in a statement. “After three long and hard decades, Jonathan is finally being reunited with his family. May this Sabbath bring him much joy and peace that will continue in the years and decades ahead.”

The prime minister is reportedly seeking to keep the release as low-key as possible, and has instructed his cabinet to refrain from discussing the matter.

Pollard’s supporters argued for years that his sentence was excessive and that others convicted for comparable crimes received lighter sentences. Most recently, hints circulated in spring 2014 that Pollard’s release could be secured as an incentive for keeping foundering peace talks alive between Israel and the Palestinian Authority — but Pollard himself reportedly rejected any attempt at using him for leverage.

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil and Marissa Newman contributed to this report

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