MANHATTAN (CN) — Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, who described himself as a “White Knight” for Israel to his parole commission, lost his Second Circuit appeal on Wednesday and will not get a relaxed curfew, GPS and internet monitoring.
Pollard served nearly 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to espionage. Now free, he has protested the terms of his release.
When Pollard handed suitcases full of Top Secret material to Israeli agents in the mid-1980s, he had been working as a civilian contractor for the U.S. Navy. His case set off a long-running debate over whether he acted out of a misplaced desire to help a U.S. ally defend itself, or from a mercenary urge to sell the secrets to which he had been entrusted.
The Second Circuit last week heard arguments over the necessity of tracking his movements to protect decades-old classified information, and on Wednesday the three-judge panel unanimously deferred to the parole commission.
“In as much as Pollard’s arguments challenge the weight the commission accorded certain information and the credibility determinations it made, such decisions fall within its broad discretion and may not be second-guessed by a federal court absent a clear showing of abuse,” the panel wrote in a 10-page summary order.
The judges rejected Pollard’s attorney’s argument that too much time has passed for him to remember any damaging secrets.
“The argument fails because the commission’s duty to ‘protect the public welfare’ … did not depend on proof of his memory,” the order states.
In 1995, the CIA director accused Pollard of spilling classified information more than a dozen times from prison.
“The fact that Pollard was never charged or disciplined for these communications did not strip the conduct of relevancy in the commission’s assessment of whether to impose special conditions on Pollard’s parole,” the panel wrote.
In a gesture of support that backfired, two Democratic members of Congress sympathetically spoke of “Mr. Pollard’s wish to move to Israel” in a letter urging leniency, but the parole commission saw a flight risk.
“While Pollard asserts that he desired lawfully to move to Israel, the commission was entitled to weigh his recent expressions on that subject in light of his past efforts to flee illegally to Israel,” the panel found.
Pollard’s attorney Eliot Lauer, with Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosele, Lauer, said in a statement that his client’s continued monitoring serves nobody.
“We are of course disappointed in the result but also disappointed in that the court did not confront the commission on the manifest unfairness of the restrictions which are unnecessary and serve no real purpose,” he said.
Pollard has said he wants to find work in the financial sector, but a firm will not hire him for fear of government monitoring.