Pollard’s historic speech blocked by draconian parole
Recently released Jonathan Pollard was stopped short of addressing a meeting of American Jewish leaders Monday for fear his comments could land him back in jail after word of the meeting leaked.
Instead, Pollard delivered a brief opening statement to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, before letting his wife Esther speak out against his “draconian” parole conditions on his behalf, according to a statement from the Justice for Jonathan Pollard group.
The speech was slated to be Pollard’s first statement in some three decades, some two months after he was released from federal prison after serving a 30 year sentence for spying on behalf of Israel.
The former US Navy analyst has kept a low profile since being released on November 20, and is forbidden to speak to the media. No rallies or public events were held after his left prison, and he has rarely been seen in public.
The released prisoner’s meeting was a private off-the-record session but was leaked to the Forward magazine, and as a result Pollard’s lawyers warned him that anything he may say at the event will be leaked and could be used to have him thrown back in jail.
Since being released, Pollard has been subject to a series of parole restrictions that restrict his freedom of movement and track his online activity. A US judge recently ordered a review of the conditions after Pollard’s legal team cried foul.
At the meeting Esther Pollard revealed a confidential document hand-delivered by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin to US President Barack Obama which details what the Justice for Jonathan Pollard group describes as a “situation in which Pollard is not only prevented from working and from exercising his religious rights, but also effectively prevents him from ever reintegrating into society.”
Esther Pollard also dismissed claims that her husband had been given a GPS device suitable for Shabbat-observant parolees.
Pollard’s last public statements were given in 1986 and 1987 to then-Jerusalem Post correspondent Wolf Blitzer, which lawyers said violated Pollard’s plea agreement.
Pollard’s continued imprisonment has proven for years to be a source of tension between successive US and Israeli administrations. Although Pollard’s reportedly deteriorating health has been cited in requests for his early release, the possibility of parole after 30 years was part of the original sentencing rules when he was prosecuted.
Under the terms of Pollard’s parole, he is likely to be forced to stay in the United States for between two and five years. President Barack Obama could intervene to allow him to emigrate to Israel, which is what Pollard reportedly hopes to do, but the White House has indicated that Obama will not intervene on the convicted behalf.
Pollard was arrested in 1985 for selling US secrets to Israel while he was working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the American Navy. One year later, Pollard pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit espionage and was sentenced to life in prison in 1987.
Pollard’s supporters argued for years that his sentence was excessive and that others convicted for comparable crimes received lighter sentences