Attorneys for imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that denied them access to classified information used to sentence the former U.S. Navy intelligence officer to life in prison in spite of a government plea agreement that promised to spare him a life term.
Pollard’s lawyers Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman say they require the secret documents to properly petition President George W. Bush to grant clemency to the Israeli agent by proving the repercussions of Pollard’s actions as alleged in the sealed papers never occurred.
“Approximately 40 pages of pre-sentencing docket materials were deemed classified and, pursuant to a protective order, were placed under seal by the court [when Pollard was sentenced in 1987.] Although the protective order contemplated future access by Mr. Pollard’s successor counsel, no attorney or representative of Mr. Pollard has been allowed to see these materials since then. … By contrast, the Justice Department has repeatedly allowed its own personnel access to these very documents in order to bolster [its] opposition to executive clemency,” stated the petition.
The Supreme Court is being asked to overrule a decision last summer by a Washington D.C. appeals court stating it had no authority to review Pollard’s request to see the classified material.
Pollard, a Naval intelligence analyst, was convicted in 1985 of one count of passing classified information to an ally, Israel, and sentenced to life imprisonment in spite of a plea agreement that was to spare Pollard a life sentence for his cooperation with a government probe.
Pollard’s sentence is considered by many to be disproportionate to the crime for which he was convicted – he is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. The median sentence for this particular offense is two to four years.
Pollard’s sentence was largely thought to have been driven by a last-minute secret memorandum from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, in which he accused Pollard of treason – a crime for which the Israeli agent was never indicted – and claimed Pollard harmed America’s national security.
Pollard’s attorneys are now trying to obtain the classified portions of the Weinberger memorandum.
Even Weinberger now contends Pollard’s life sentence may be about something else. The former defense chief said in a recent interview that the Pollard issue “is a very minor matter, but made very important. … It was made far bigger than its actual importance.”
Pollard previously told WND the information he passed to Israel forewarned the Jewish state about the buildup of unconventional weapons of war in neighboring Arab countries, including the buildup of arms by Saddam Hussein for use against Israel.
The Israeli government denied for years Pollard was its spy but finally acknowledged it in 1998 and now claims to be pressing for his release.
Pollard has been the subject of major solidarity rallies in Israel the past few months, including a rally in Jerusalem marking the 20th anniversary of his incarceration attended by nearly 20,000 people.
Lauer and Semmelman say Pollard’s best chance for release remains presidential clemency.
Pollard’s wife, Esther, told WND, “Jonathan has always been singled out for ‘special treatment’ by the American justice system, much to his detriment. We hope the Supreme Court will hear the case, and enable Jonathan’s security-cleared attorneys access to their client’s own sentencing docket, so that the truth about the Pollard case can finally be known and proven beyond a doubt.”