Information that convicted American spy Jonathan Pollard provided to Israel 30 years ago is still classified as “top secret” and “secret” and its disclosure could harm U.S. national security, the U.S. director of national intelligence has said.
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James Clapper wrote in a February letter to the U.S. Parole Commission that the intelligence Pollard gathered in the 1980s while working as a civilian analyst for the U.S. Navy was sensitive enough to justify severe restrictions on his movement and online activity, which are part of his parole restrictions.
The letter was included in several exhibits provided last week to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan by Pollard’s attorneys as they attempt to have the restrictions on Pollard’s parole loosened. Pollard’s attorneys sent copies of the exhibits to JTA.
Pollard was released from jail in November on mandatory parole after 30 years, during which time he reportedly was a model prisoner.
The restrictive conditions for Pollard’s five-year parole include wearing an electronic ankle bracelet with GPS tracking and surveillance of his and any employer’s computers. He also is confined to his New York home between 7 P.M. and 7 A.M. — a condition, Pollard’s attorneys argue, has precluded him from holding a job.
He also is not permitted to join his wife, Esther, who he married while he was in prison, in Israel. The parole board justified the GPS monitoring, saying Pollard was a flight risk, by citing a letter written by New York Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Eliot Engel, both Democrats, to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in November in which they ask that Pollard be permitted to move to Israel following his release from prison. The letter is provided as an exhibit.
Pollard’s attorneys in a letter sent last week to the District Court asserted that Pollard has no secret information stored in his head. It also said Pollard provided thousands of pages of material to the Israeli government and did not actually read the documents, much less remember their contents 30 years later.
“(I)t is implausible to suggest that Mr. Pollard has been able to preserve any meaningful details from the thousands of documents he reviewed only cursorily 30 years ago,” the attorneys said in their filing. “Even if he still remembers some general ideas from the documents, such information has no value without the actual images, numbers, or texts themselves.”
The attorneys also said there is no relationship between Pollard’s offense and the GPS monitoring condition, and that the GPS monitor interferes with his rights to freely practice his religion, since the machine has to be plugged in during the Sabbath, which violates Orthodox Jewish practice.
The filing said there is no “realistic concern that Mr. Pollard would foolishly violate the conditions of his parole and attempt to leave the United States, either for Israel or anywhere else.”
Pollard is also restricted in his computer and Internet use, which has prevented him from accepting a job offer to become a senior analyst at a financial firm, according to his attorneys.
The court set June 13 as the date for oral arguments in the case, which Pollard’s attorneys have asked to change since it is the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.