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Convicted Israeli spy Pollard loses bid to relax US parole conditions

May 24, 2017 at 9:00 pm

A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a bid by Jonathan Pollard, a former US Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, to relax his parole conditions.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the US Parole Commission acted within its discretion in requiring Pollard to wear an electronic tracking device, obey a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, and allow his computers to be monitored.

Pollard, 62, was paroled in November 2015 after serving 30 years of a life sentence for espionage.

He had said the parole conditions were too severe because he was neither a flight risk nor a threat to disseminate or even remember classified information he learned decades ago. Pollard also said the conditions have prevented him from getting a job.

But the court said parole officials could consider both Pollard’s alleged “propensity to dissemble,” as well as the assessment by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that documents compromised by Pollard remained classified.

Pollard’s parole conditions “minimised the risk of harm he continued to pose for United States intelligence,” the three-judge appeals court panel said.

Eliot Lauer, a lawyer for Pollard, said in an email he was disappointed in the outcome, and that the court declined to “confront the Commission on the manifest injustice of these onerous and unnecessary restrictions.”

A spokeswoman for Acting US Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan declined to comment.

US authorities accused Pollard of having in 1984 and 1985 provided Israeli contacts with suitcases full of classified documents in exchange for thousands of dollars of payments.

Pollard pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in 1986 and was sentenced to life in prison the next year. Prior to being paroled, he had been held in custody since his 1985 arrest.

Now living in New York City, Pollard must remain in the United States for five years, and cannot move to Israel to join his wife, who lives there.

Israel has long sought his release, and in a gesture of solidarity granted Pollard citizenship in 1995.

Wednesday’s decision upheld an August 2016 ruling by US District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan.

The case is Pollard v. US Parole Commission et al, 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 16-2918.