Pollard Washington Court Appeal 'Only Chance' for Judicial Relief

Etgar Lefkovits - Jerusalem Post - Sept. 3, 2003

A Tuesday Washington district court hearing for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is his only chance for judicial relief, Pollard's attorney said Tuesday. "This is Pollard's only case in federal court; it is his only chance for judicial relief," Pollard's attorney Larry Dub said Tuesday.

The court hearing, which was scheduled to get underway at 2 pm Washington time (9 p.m. local time), will be Pollard's first public appearance since he was sentenced to life imprisonment a decade and a half ago. Two American lawyers representing Pollard will ask Washington district court Judge Thomas Hogan to grant Pollard a new trial, and permit the defense to view classified documents from the time of his sentencing, Dub said. Two years ago, a different US District Court Judge dismissed a motion brought by Pollard's lawyers for re- sentencing, stating that the statute of limitations for such a move had expired. On Tuesday, Pollard's American lawyers will ask the court to reconsider that ruling, or for permission to appeal it. "I am not extremely optimistic in view of the fact that a judge from the same court has ruled against us but I have been to too many cases where the unexpected happens," Dub said Tuesday in an interview from his Jerusalem office.

Dub, who is not being paid for his services, said he did not travel to the Washington hearing for "monetary reasons." The procedural hearing was scheduled to last for one hour, the attorney said, but it was not immediately clear whether a decision would be made at the conclusion of the hearing or at a later date. If the judge again denies the motion, but grants the right of appeal, his lawyers will do so in a higher court delaying any decision by at least half a year, Dub said.

A former US Navy intelligence analyst, Pollard has served 18 years of a life sentence for espionage. Arrested in the US in 1985 for spying for Israel, Pollard accepted a plea bargain a year later in which he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit espionage. However, in a highly unusual move, the American government then reneged on the shorter prison term they had promised him in return for his plea bargain, and in March 1987 sentenced him to life in prison.

Dub said that the New York attorneys who will representing Pollard in the Washington court hearing, Elliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, will again argue that the convicted spy received 'ineffectual counsel' by his attorney at the time, Richard Hibey, since he failed to lodge an appeal to the breach of the plea bargain and the sudden life sentencing, and did not object to the secrecy of the classified documents brought forward by the prosecution shortly before the sentencing. Hibey, an American of Lebanese descent, was recommended by the Israeli Government, Dub said.

In the decade and a half since his sentencing, successive US administrations have rejected repeated requests for clemency. Israeli efforts to attain Pollard's released peaked during the Netanyahu administration, when the former premier asked former president Bill Clinton for clemency for Pollard during peace talks at the Wye Plantation in Maryland.

Clinton agreed to favorably review the case, and reached what Israeli political sources termed at the time 'a tacit understanding' Pollard would be released as part of the peace process. But following media leaks, and the outcry and rabid opposition from some officials in the US intelligence community, including CIA Director George Tenet - who reportedly threatened to resign if Clinton acceded to Netanyahu's request for a pardon - the former president then backpedaled from the understanding, and Pollard remained in jail. It was during Netanyahu's tenure as prime minister that Israel acknowledged he had worked for its intelligence apparatus and granted him citizenship.

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