Pollard Appeal Raises Broader Issues

Jonathan Pollard

In the latest filing in the ongoing legal battle seeking the removal of broad and severe parole restrictions, attorneys for Jonathan Pollard warned on Monday that were a lower court’s ruling rejecting a habeus corpus petition allowed to stand, it would set a precedent that would have dire consequences for the rights of many other Americans.

Pollard was released from prison a year ago November after serving an unprecedented 30 years for passing classified information to an ally, Israel. He is currently required to wear a GPS monitoring system that consists of a non-removable transmitter worn on his wrist, and a receiver that is plugged into an electrical outlet in his Manhattan residence. Whenever he moves outside the range of the receiver, the transmitter acts as a GPS tracker and monitors his location. Were Pollard to step out of his tiny studio apartment to daven with a minyan or get some fresh air on Shabbos or Yom Tov, the battery would begin to drain, forcing him to choose between violating Shabbos or facing re-arrest.

The parole restrictions also include a “curfew” that puts him under house arrest between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. During the daytime, he is only permitted to travel in parts of Manhattan, and is even prohibited from visiting nearby Brooklyn. The restrictions also include the unfettered monitoring and inspection of his computers, as well as those of any employer who chooses to hire him, which has prevented him from being able to gain employment.

In the brief, written by a team of lawyers led by his long-time pro-bono attorneys Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, Pollard argues that “neither the Commission, nor its backers in the intelligence agencies, have pointed to an iota of still-classified information accessed by Pollard during 1984-1985 that is of a type that he, or any human being, could possibly retain in his head after 31 years.”

In court documents, the Parole Commission has indicated that it is not required to provide any evidence proving that Pollard currently poses a threat to national security that would explain such restrictions, but that a simple assertion by the intelligence community to this effect should suffice.

“The Commission’s position would enable any government agency to make entirely conclusory determinations that have no factual basis, and to have those determinations insulated from judicial review merely because the Commission accepted them as true,” Pollard’s attorneys argue. “That is not the law, and should not become the law.”

A legal observer who has been following the Pollard case for many years, and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, told Hamodia that Pollard’s attorneys were taking a “very compelling approach.”

“What they are basically saying is that if you allow the Parole Commission to set forth such claims without providing any facts, any other government agency can do the same — depriving individual Americans throughout this country of their basic rights,” the observer said.

Both sides have requested oral arguments before the appeals court.