U.S. Judge Orders Pollard Parole Conditions to Be Reviewed

District Judge says stronger justification needed for electronic bracelet, computer monitoring for released Israeli spy.

Convicted American spy Jonathan Pollard after release. Manhattan, New York. November 20, 2015.
AP

REUTERS - A U.S. judge on Monday ordered a federal commission to provide further justification for subjecting former Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to restrictive probation conditions following his release last month from prison after 30 years.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said the U.S. Parole Commission had provided little basis to justify why Pollard must wear an electronic bracelet and submit to monitoring of his work computer.

She ordered the Parole Commission to in particular assess whether it believed that Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy convicted of passing classified information to Israel, still possessed confidential information.

"If there is secret information Jonathan Pollard could disclose, then restrictive conditions could be necessary," Forrest said.

But if he does not, Forrest said, his conditions may need to be modified. Forrest called her decision to send Pollard's case back to the commission for further review "the first step, and I think this is the right step."

Lawyers for Pollard have called the electronic bracelet's use unjustified, and said the computer conditions would prevent him from taking an investment firm job.

Eliot Lauer, Pollard's lawyer, in court also said no one had ever suggested any information his client had remained sensitive three decades later.

But the U.S. Justice Department argued the strict conditions were "reasonably related" to the circumstances underlying Pollard's crime to ensure among other things that he does not disseminate classified information.

Rebecca Tinio, a Justice Department lawyer, said the "majority of the information Mr. Pollard had 30 years ago remains classified."

Pollard, 61, pleaded guilty in 1986 to conspiracy to commit espionage in connection with his providing Israeli contacts with suitcases full of highly classified documents.

He was sentenced in 1987 to life in prison. After serving 30 years, which included time in custody following his arrest, Pollard was released on parole on Nov. 20 from a federal prison in North Carolina and is now living in New York.

Pollard, who was granted Israeli citizenship in prison, has said he wants to emigrate to Israel, which has long pushed for his release.

As part of his parole, Pollard must remain in the United States for five years, although his lawyers have asked President Barack Obama to commute his sentence, allowing him to go to Israel immediately.

U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes at the time of Pollard's release said Obama had no plans to alter his parole to allow him to leave the United States.