Judge Orders Explanation of Jonathan Pollard’s Parole

In response to an appeal by attorneys for Jonathan Pollard, a Manhattan District Court judge ordered the parole commission to explain the restrictions placed on the former spy.

Pollard’s attorneys submitted the appeal last Thursday, two weeks before oral arguments on July 22.

Pollard, a U.S. citizen, was convicted of spying for Israel in the mid-80s. He served 30 years of a life sentence, much of it in solitary confinement. Year after year, the parole board turned him down. And despite numerous requests for clemency by prominent international figures, he remained incarcerated until this past November.

The parole restrictions require Pollard, 61, to wear an ankle bracelet 24/7. He cannot leave his New York apartment before 7:00 a.m. and has to return by 7:00 p.m. His computer is monitored, hampering his ability to find employment or attend synagogue on Friday evening. But the most heartbreaking restriction for the Pollards is not being able to live in Israel.

Last November, Israelis nationwide cheered his long-awaited release to freedom, only to learn the parole conditions were as disproportionate as his exceptionally long sentence.

In their final appeal, Pollard’s attorneys said the commission “has a statutory burden to satisfy before it may deprive Mr. Pollard of his liberties, and it has not satisfied that burden.”

The parole board then asked permission to submit a classified statement that Pollard’s attorneys would not be allowed to see. Manhattan District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest allowed the filing, but said Pollard’s attorneys must be made aware of the statement’s “substance.”

Meanwhile, his attorneys said the parole board’s reversal “demonstrates that the only reason it imposed the onerous special conditions on Mr. Pollard is out of a vindictive and retaliatory motivation to punish Mr. Pollard for voicing his desire to live lawfully in Israel upon his release after 30 years in prison.”

“Retaliation is not, however, a rational or lawful basis for special conditions of parole,” they argued.

In a letter to President Obama in November 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote, “Jonathan Pollard has reportedly served longer in prison than any person convicted of similar crimes and longer than the period requested by the prosecutors at the time of his plea bargain agreement. Jonathan has suffered greatly for his actions and his health has deteriorated considerably.”

“I know the United States is a country based on fairness, justice and mercy. For all these reasons, I respectfully ask that you favorably consider this request for clemency. The people of Israel will be eternally grateful,” Netanyahu wrote.

The appeal, like the many that came before, didn’t appear to stir the president to take an interest in the case.

This article originally appeared on CBN News, July 8, 2016, and reposted with permission.