Fearing return to jail, freed spy Pollard aborts first speech in 30 years

Address to US Jewish leaders on 'draconian' parole conditions nixed after word leaks to media and lawyers warn of possible repercussions

Times Of Israel Staff - January 25, 2016

Recently released Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was stopped short of addressing a meeting of American Jewish leaders Monday for fear his comments could land him back in jail after word of the meeting leaked.

Instead, Pollard delivered a brief opening statement to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, before letting his wife Esther speak out on his behalf against his draconianĚ parole conditions, according to a statement from the Justice for Jonathan Pollard group.

The speech was slated to be Pollardôs first statement in some three decades, two months after he was released from federal prison after serving 30 years of a life sentence for spying on behalf of Israel.

His last media interviews were with then-Jerusalem Post correspondent Wolf Blitzer in late 1986 and early 1987.

The former US Navy analyst has kept a low profile since being released on November 20, and is forbidden to speak to the media. No rallies or public events were held after he left prison, and he has rarely been seen in public.

The released prisonerôs meeting was a private off-the-record session but was leaked to the Forward newspaper, and as a result Pollardôs lawyers warned him that anything he might say at the event would be leaked and could be used to have him thrown back in jail.

Pollard is subject to a series of parole restrictions that restrict his freedom of movement and track his online activity. A US judge recently ordered a review of the conditions after Pollardôs legal team cried foul.

At the meeting Monday, Esther Pollard revealed a confidential document hand-delivered by Israelôs President Reuven Rivlin to US President Barack Obama which details what the Justice for Jonathan Pollard group describes as a situation in which Pollard is not only prevented from working and from exercising his religious rights, but also effectively prevents him from ever reintegrating into society.Ě

Esther Pollard also dismissed claims that her husband had been given a GPS device suitable for Shabbat-observant parolees.

Pollardôs continued imprisonment was for years a source of tension between successive US and Israeli administrations. Although Pollardôs reportedly deteriorating health was cited in requests for his early release, the possibility of parole after 30 years was part of the original sentence.

Under the terms of Pollardôs parole, he is likely to be forced to stay in the United States for between two and five years, according to reports, though activists working to allow him to emigrate to Israel say the period is as long as 15 years. President Barack Obama could intervene to allow him to emigrate to Israel, which is what Pollard reportedly hopes to do, but the White House has indicated that Obama will not intervene on his behalf.

Pollard was arrested in 1985 for espionage on Israelôs behalf while he was working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the American Navy. One year later, Pollard pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit espionage and was sentenced to life in prison in 1987.

Pollard's supporters argued for years that his sentence was excessive and that others convicted for comparable crimes received lighter sentences.

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