Pollard Wants Prisoner of Zion Status

Nina Gilbert - Jerusalem Post - May 8, 2005

Imprisoned agent Jonathan Pollard petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday demanding that it recognize him as a "Prisoner of Zion," in a bid to put more pressure on the Israeli government to secure his release from a life sentence in the US.

In the petition, Pollard claims he has been "cruelly mistreated" and "systematically tortured" during his years in prison.

Pollard petitioned the court after the Absorption Ministry rejected his request for Prisoner of Zion status in line with a 1992 law that grants support to the prisoners and their families.

"Pollard is deserving of Prisoner of Zion recognition because he has sacrificed his life for Israel and the US is refusing to release him," said attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who filed the petition. She said the recognition would make Israel "morally responsible" for Pollard's fate.

The ministry's Prisoner of Zion Authority last year rejected a petition on Pollard's behalf on grounds that his case did not fit the criteria in the law. It said spying could not be considered a Zionist activity that is outlawed in the foreign country, in addition to the fact that the US is not an enemy country and Zionism is not illegal there.

According to the Absorption Ministry's spokeswoman, the decision was made by an independent panel of three judges appointed by the ministry, which only bureaucratically overseas the authority and has "no say in its decisions."

Pollard, a former US navy intelligence analyst, was given a life sentence 19 years ago for passing classified information to Israel. As a result of previous legal action in Israel, Pollard was given Israeli citizenship in 1996 and later officially recognized as an Israeli agent.

The petition added that Pollard was given an "unprecedented and disproportionate life sentence" because he acted on Israel's behalf. In addition, the petition claims, the US's refusal to release him from jail is due to his "Zionist activity" for the security of the state of Israel.

In an attempt to prove that Pollard is suffering for his Zionist loyalty, the petition detailed alleged mistreatment of Pollard in the prisons where he has been held, except for the current one in North Carolina. Pollard's attorneys attributed the treatment to the fact that Pollard is a "Jewish solider" in the service of the Jewish people.

The petition outlines a number of incidents of alleged mistreatment from the start of his imprisonment. When Pollard was held before sentencing at FCI Petersberg in Virginia, he was awoken one night and taken out of jail. "The warders abused him emotionally and lied to him by telling him he was being released as part of a deal with Israel and was being taken to the airport," the petition said. Instead he was brought to Lewisberg prison where he was held in the nude in isolation in cold temperatures for "weeks at a time," it said, adding that he was forced to sleep on a concrete floor and did not receive a bed or blankets. The only thing in the room was a toilet that could not be emptied, it added.

According to the petition, in the Springfield jail Pollard was given electric shocks and at the Marion prison was been held in a 2 meter by 2 and a half meter cell 24 hours a day. The attorney noted that since Pollard's life depends on the warders at Butner Federal Prison in North Carolina it could not detail his situation.

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