Judge Won't Reopen Pollard Israeli Spy Case

James Vicini - Reuters - November 13, 2003


- A federal judge rejected on Thursday a request by Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who admitted spying for Israel, to reopen his case and reconsider his 1987 sentence of life in prison.

U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas Hogan said a different judge had been correct in 2001 in turning down Pollard's request for resentencing. Pollard, 49, is serving the life sentence at a federal prison in North Carolina.

Hogan in the 19-page ruling refused to hold a hearing on the evidence. He rejected a second request by Pollard's lawyers for access to highly classified government documents from sentencing so they could more effectively pursue clemency.

One of Pollard's New York-based lawyers, Jacques Semmelman, said he was "surprised and disappointed with both rulings." He said he go next to the U.S. court of appeals.

Arrested in 1985 outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Pollard was sentenced for passing classified U.S. information to Israel. His former wife, Anne, was sentenced to five years in prison for assisting him.

Pollard's case has become a cause celebre for some Jewish groups in the United States and his supporters in Israel. Top Israeli government officials have unsuccessfully pressed the United States to let him out of prison.

Pollard's lawyers argued he received ineffective assistance of counsel by his initial lawyer, who represented him when he pleaded guilty and was sentenced, and then by his lawyer, who represented him in his first appeal in the early 1990s.

But Hogan said Pollard over the course of his entire case had "a phalanx of well known, respected lawyers of the highest reputations."

His lawyers have included Theodore Olson, now the Justice Department's solicitor general, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and a number of prominent criminal defense lawyers.

Hogan ruled that Pollard's motion for resentencing was barred by the statute of limitations and had been properly dismissed earlier.

"Mr. Pollard has couched his claims in alleged violations of constitutional rights, such as ineffective assistance of counsel, but closer inquiry reveals these alleged violations to be merely procedural in nature," he said.

Pollard's lawyers wanted the judge to give them access to the classified documents, including a declaration by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger filed right before sentencing.

Pollard's first lawyer had access to the declaration. Later requests for access to it were turned down by a federal judge in 1990 and twice by a federal judge in 2001.

Hogan ruled that Pollard and his lawyers have offered no new justification for him to determine that any of them have a "need to know" what is in the classified information.

"He has presented no credible evidence that the current president is any more willing to grant him clemency than the previous three presidents who declined to do so," Hogan ruled in the second opinion.

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