Israeli Media: Pollard to be Released in 2015

But wife of convicted spy says information 'completely inaccurate'

Aaron Klein - WorldNetDaily - November 2, 2005

JERUSALEM - Newspapers here claimed yesterday that "for the first time ever" a release date has been set for Jonathan Pollard, citing an American government website that displays a projected release of November 2015 for the incarcerated Israeli agent who was sentenced 20 years ago to life in prison.

But Pollard's wife, Esther, dismissed the multiple media reports as "completely inaccurate and misleading," and said without direct intervention by the Jewish state the United States will continue to keep her husband behind bars "indefinitely and to the detriment of the Jewish people."

According to the official U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Pollard's possible release is projected for Nov. 21, 2015 - the 30th anniversary of his arrest. The site features a section that projects prisoner release dates by entering the names and prison register numbers of federal inmates.

The website projections made top news in Israel yesterday, with media outlets claiming it was the first time a release date had ever been issued for Pollard. The Haaretz daily stated the Justice Department's "readiness" to recognize a possible release date, even if it isn't for another 10 years, "could help the Israeli effort to cut [Pollard's] sentence further still."

But the 2015 projected release has been around for almost two decades. WND has learned the date has been on the Bureau of Prison's website for several years, and has been cited repeatedly in Pollard's official prison records starting in 1987.

Pollard's lawyers say the release date is not specific to the prisoner, but is a theoretical date based on federal guidelines that were in effect at the time Pollard was sentence.

The prisoner's American attorney, Jacques Semmelman, told WND, "Under applicable law, the Bureau of Prisons computer issues an alert indicating a prisoner serving a life sentence is presumptively entitled to parole at the 30th anniversary of the initial incarceration. The government can oppose this parole. The 2015 date on the website, which I saw years ago, is generated either by computer or by a clerk who has no knowledge of anything other than how to compute 30 years from the date of initial incarceration. It is neither a reflection of the American government's position on Pollard nor the product of Israeli negotiation."

Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was convicted in 1985 of one count of passing classified information to an ally, Israel, and sentenced to life imprisonment in spite of a plea agreement that was to spare him a life sentence.

Pollard's sentence is considered by many to be disproportionate to the crime for which he was convicted - he is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. The median sentence for this particular offense is two to four years.

Pollard's wife, Esther, said, "Jonathan has always been singled out for 'special treatment' by the American justice system. None of the standard guidelines or precedents have ever applied to him. We have no reason to believe that this projected release date, which has been around for years, means anything."

Esther Pollard said she was "skeptical" about the timing of the Israeli media reports regarding what she called a "non-story."

Pollard's lawyers are currently waiting for the Israeli Supreme Court to hear a case demanding the Israeli government secure Pollard's immediate release. The case was supposed to be presented yesterday but has been delayed several months at the government's request. It is based on official Israeli government documents that state the United States reneged on a deal with Israel that would have prevented the issuance of a life sentence.

Pollard's Jerusalem-based attorney, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, told WND she thinks the Supreme Court case is "problematic for the Israeli government since it is based on official Israeli documents that compel it to demand Jonathan's release."

Pollard's life sentence was largely thought to have been driven by a last-minute secret memorandum from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, in which he accused Pollard of treason - a crime for which he was never indicted - and claimed Pollard harmed America's national security.

But even Weinberger now says the sentence may be about something else.

The former defense chief said in a recent interview that the Pollard issue "is a very minor matter, but made very important. ... It was made far bigger than its actual importance."

Pollard previously told WND the information he passed to Israel forewarned the Jewish state about the buildup of unconventional weapons of war in neighboring Arab countries, including the buildup of arms by Saddam Hussein for use against Israel.

Said Esther Pollard, "Israel is troubled by the strength of Jonathan's new case because it relies on official government documents. Media reports about a new release date for Jonathan make it appear as if the Israeli government has made some kind of progress in securing Jonathan's release, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth."

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Aaron Klein is WorldNetDaily's Jerusalem bureau chief, whose past interview subjects have included Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak, Mahmoud al-Zahar and leaders of the Taliban.

  • See Also: Pollard's Representatives: Sentence Not Cut: Maariv (Hebrew Text PDF File)