Pollard Seeks to Appeal Life Sentence

Carol D. Leonnig - The Washington Post - September 2, 2003

Attorneys for Jonathan Jay Pollard, the U.S. Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel 16 years ago, argued in federal court yesterday that he has been punished too harshly because of mistakes by previous lawyers and the government's reliance on dubious claims about the damage he caused.

Pollard's lawyers asked U.S. Chief District Judge Thomas F. Hogan to let them appeal the life sentence Pollard received in 1987 when he was convicted of selling [J4JP: not true! Jonathan did not


information to Israel, he


secret information to Tel Aviv. They also asked for access to sealed government documents that they said describe the impact of Pollard's crimes. The lawyers said they have doubts about those claims and believe the information will help them persuade President Bush to commute Pollard's sentence.

"The Jonathan Pollard case is a stain on the American legal process," his attorney Eliot Lauer said. "The government agreed they would not seek a life sentence, and that's exactly what they did . . . and Jonathan Pollard has repeatedly been denied justice."

Pollard, 49, was brought from a federal prison in Butner, N.C., to the Washington courtroom for yesterday's 90-minute hearing. He wore wire-rimmed spectacles, an embroidered yarmulke and a green prison overshirt. Pollard, who stopped cutting his hair in protest over his sentence in the late 1990s, now has a gray-brown beard and shoulder-length curly brown hair. It was his first appearance in federal court since his conviction.

About 40 relatives and Pollard supporters packed the court hearing. [J4JP: the courtroom holds 100 spectators. Any more than 100 are turned away. That is what occurred. The courtroom was packed and many supporters were turned away.] They included several rabbis; his father; his wife, Esther; Rep. Anthony D.Weiner (D-N.Y.); and Mordechai Eliahu, Israel's former chief rabbi and a venerated figure there.

Prosecutors opposed letting Pollard's attorneys review the government documents or allowing Pollard an appeal. They said the defense team had brought forward no new information or central flaw in Pollard's conviction or sentencing.

Some of Pollard's lawyers made similar arguments for access to sealed government documents in 1990 and twice in 2001, and were turned down all three times. Pollard's lawyers also have sought to win a presidential pardon for Pollard but have been rejected by former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. [J4JP note: Not true. Clemency was neither requested from nor denied by President Reagan.]

But Lauer said new information has greatly strengthened Pollard's bid to see the sealed documents. A letter from a Justice Department official shows that 25 people, most of them Justice employees, were granted access between 1993 and 2000 to the same records that the government says Pollard's attorneys, who have security clearances, cannot see.

"At the same time the government is arguing that the file is not relevant, government attorneys are looking at the same file," Lauer said. "This case is based on . . . government misrepresentation."

Pollard, the son of a Jewish academic, was a civilian analyst for the Navy when he offered his services to Israeli intelligence officers in the belief that the United States should have been sharing the information with Tel Aviv. He was caught in November 1985 and arrested after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli Embassy. The Israeli government granted Pollard citizenship and has repeatedly sought his release. [J4JP: In 1998 Israel admitted that Jonathan was a bona fide Israel agent and officially recognized him as such.]

Though prosecutors said in a plea agreement that they would not seek a life sentence, Chief Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. meted out that sentence. Pollard and his then-wife, Anne -- who served three years in prison for aiding him -- acknowledged that they had violated terms of their plea agreements by granting interviews to reporters before sentencing. [J4JP: Not true! See *J4JP Note on Media Interviews below.]

Lauer contended that Pollard's first attorney, Richard Hibey, did not file a notice to appeal Pollard's life sentence. Pollard's next attorney, Hamilton P. Fox, praised Hibey's work rather than criticizing it and protecting Pollard's ability to appeal, Lauer said.

Pollard's attorneys said they want to see a 1987 letter from former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger to the court that details the damage Pollard caused. According to news reports, Weinberger said that Pollard passed diagrams of the Palestine Liberation Organization's headquarters in Tunis, which had helped Israel in a 1985 bomb attack on the PLO; details of Soviet arms shipments to Syria; information on the Pakistani nuclear weapons program; Iraqi and Syrian chemical warfare production capacity; and the capability of Libyan air defenses.

Most significant, Weinberger wrote, was Pollard's sale [J4JP: "passing" not "sale"] of raw intelligence material that disclosed the all-important "sources and methods" of U.S. intelligence-gathering.

But Lauer said the sealed documents may show that Weinberger and the government forecast harm from Pollard's spying that never occurred. And, Lauer said, some of the espionage attributed to Pollard may have been committed by other spies.

*J4JP Note on Media Interviews

Jonathan never, repeat never, stated that his interviews with Wolfe Blitzer were "unauthorized." Incredibly, it was Jonathan's first attorney, Richard Hibey, who stabbed him in the back by endorsing the government's false portrayal of the interviews as a breach of the plea agreement. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jonathan had, in fact, obtained official permission to meet with Blitzer. And his original lawyer knew this when he damagingly stated just the opposite to the court.

The issue of the Blitzer interviews was addressed by Jonathan in his

August 28, 2000 Declaration In Support Of Motion For Resentencing

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