WASHINGTON — Despite several media reports that convicted American spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard may be released later this year, Eliot Lauer, one of Pollard’s attorneys, told the Times of Israel Friday that he has received no indication of this.
“We have not received any word, and I would expect that either I or my client would be the ones who would be notified,” Lauer said Friday afternoon. Lauer is a member of Pollard’s pro-bono legal team and has represented him for over two decades.
The 61-year-old Pollard is serving a life sentence in a US federal prison for passing classified information to Israel; he was granted citizenship by Israel 20 years ago. The flurry of reports reflect a US government website that lists Pollard’s release date (under ID number 09185-016) as November 21, 2015 – a date that would coincide with the 30th anniversary of the former Navy analyst’s arrest. But Lauer noted that November 21, 2015, has been listed as a release date for Pollard for decades.
“Under the system he could be released unless the government or the parole commission would conclude that they’re not releasing him,” Lauer explained. “The presumption is that until the parole commission says he should be released, he doesn’t get released.”
In order for Pollard to be released, a Notice of Action must first be issued – and presumably, it is Pollard’s legal team which would receive it first. According to Lauer, no such Notice of Action has been received.
Lauer said the authorities could issue such a notice shortly before Pollard’s release date.
Although Pollard is serving a life sentence under a Federal law which allows the possibility of parole. he is the only American citizen who has been sentenced to life in prison for passing classified information to a US ally.
Israeli government officials, activists, and even members of Congress have pressed successive US administrations for Pollard’s release.
There have been multiple false starts and reports over the years indicating that Pollard’s release was imminent. During his farewell visit to Washington DC as president of Israel last year, Shimon Peres pressed US President Barack Obama for Pollard’s release.
In August 2014, a request by Pollard for parole was denied, with the officials arguing that releasing Pollard would “constitute contempt for the severity of the offense and promote a lack of respect for the law.”
In response, a number of former high-level US officials – including former CIA director Amb. R. James Woolsey, and former assistant US secretary of defense Lawrence J. Korb – wrote a strongly worded letter to President Barack Obama denouncing the “unjust denial” of Pollard’s request.