For the committed individuals who have carefully followed every detail in the saga of Jonathan Pollard, the date of November 21, 2015 has been in the back of their minds for a very long time.
They were well aware that the Bureau of Prisons website showed a “projected release” date for Pollard for this date — which is precisely 30 years since he was first arrested.
For years, the notion that Jonathan Pollard would still be in prison when this date would arrive, was something they preferred not even to think about, given that his sentence was so “grossly disproportionate.” There was genuine concern whether Pollard, who suffers from numerous serious ailments, could even survive so long in prison. They found it inconceivable that in the United States of America, a case that has been widely decried by knowledgeable U.S. officials as a travesty of justice, would go on for so long without being rectified.
As this date draws ever closer, Jonathan and wife, Mrs. Esther Pollard, who has selflessly dedicated her life to trying to lead the effort to try to obtain her husband’s freedom, have declined to make any public statements. Clearly, at this sensitive time, the less said, the better.
Individuals close to the Pollards with first-hand knowledge of the case have, however, expressed to Hamodia their frustration about the massive amount of misinformation that is appearing in published reports — even in the mainstream media.
Contrary to the assertion in many reports that Pollard is completing “a 30-year sentence,” the record clearly shows that Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to “life” in prison. There is a vast difference. Had his sentence been only 30 years, he would have been eligible for mandatory release a decade ago.
While this, too, would have been unprecedented — the median sentence for the crime he committed, passing classified information to an ally, is two to four years, Pollard unjustly was sentenced to life in prison.
As previously reported in Hamodia, Pollard was arrested in 1985 and sentenced in 1987. At that time a “life” sentence in the United States was defined as 45 years or more; therefore, the 30 years that Pollard has served is two-thirds of the life sentence he received.
According to the relevant law for those sentenced at that time, a prisoner who has served two-thirds of his sentence should be released, unless he committed serious infractions in prison, or is likely to commit further crimes upon release.
Pollard has been a model prisoner, and after three decades in prison, it is illogical to think that Pollard still has any information to share — or that he would ever do so.
Nevertheless, supporters of Pollard have been reluctant to bank on the November 21st release date. They point out that he has never been treated in the same manner as anyone else who committed a similar offense in the U.S. No one else who passed classified information to an ally has ever received life in prison — including seven long years in solitary confinement.
When the Parole Commission informed Pollard in writing that this projected release date is “not automatic,” and may be continued to 45 years or more, his supporters saw this as an ominous sign, and feared that the miscarriage of justice will continue.
In recent days, there has been a flurry of news reports about Pollard quoting unnamed White House officials saying that they “anticipated” Pollard being released in November — or perhaps even earlier.
Some have speculated that the administration would seek to get political mileage out of a Pollard release by describing it as an attempt to placate Israel, which is infuriated over the Iran nuclear deal.
An official White House spokesperson denied the reports.
“Mr. Pollard’s status will be determined by the United States Parole Commission according to standard procedures,” National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey insisted. “There is absolutely zero linkage between Mr. Pollard’s status and foreign policy considerations.”
The Parole Commission is purportedly an independent arm of the Department of Justice, which, an encouraging sign, for the first time, publicly indicated that it won’t oppose his release once the 30 years are up.
The following day, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, speaking at a security conference in Aspen stated that the Justice Department “will not interfere in the case”, confirming that the Department of Justice will not try to prevent Pollard’s release.
Lynch unequivocally declared that Jonathan Pollard has served enough time to be released, in accordance with the law under which he was sentenced to life in prison in 1987. She also rejected any linkage to the Iran deal.
Pollard’s supporters point out that Parole doesn’t mean total freedom. Depending on the actual decision by the commission, he could still face severe restrictions and limitations, including being barred from returning to or even visiting Israel — the country which he served and for which he has paid with the last 30 years of his life in prison.
Furthermore, his supporters stress that until the commission releases a “Notice of Action” formally informing Pollard of an impending release, any talk of his being let out is just speculation.
“We have seen our hopes shattered too many times,” one activist with knowledge of the case, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Hamodia on Sunday afternoon. “We have more reason to be optimistic than we had a few weeks ago, there is reason to be hopeful. But he is still in dire need of our prayers.