Precisely five years since Jonathan Pollard was released from prison after serving thirty years of an unprecedented life sentence for passing classified information to an ally, Israel, he was finally informed Friday afternoon that onerous parole restrictions have been lifted. Now, thirty-five years after his arrest on November 21, 1985, Jonathan Pollard, 65, is a free man.
In a statement, Mr. Pollard’s longtime pro bono attorneys, Jacques Semmelman and Eliot Lauer said, “We are grateful and delighted that our client is finally free of any restrictions, and is now a free man in all respects.” The attorneys also said they “look forward to seeing our client in Israel,” where Pollard has long expressed an interest in moving after his parole ended.
Pollard had been required to wear a GPS monitoring system that consisted of a non-removable transmitter installed on his wrist, and a receiver that is plugged into an outlet in his Manhattan residence. Whenever he moved outside the range of the receiver, the transmitter — which is three inches long and two inches wide — acted 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 included a “curfew” that put him under house arrest between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. During the daytime, he was only permitted to travel in parts of Manhattan, and even prohibited from visiting nearby Brooklyn. The restrictions also included 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 a footnote to one of their legal briefs in this case, the U.S. government had noted that “there is a statutory presumption that five years after a parolee’s release, the Commission shall terminate supervision over such parolee unless the Parole Commission makes a showing that there is a likelihood that the parolee will engage in conduct violating any criminal law.”
Yet in the months, weeks and even days leading up to the five-year mark, Pollard and his lawyers were kept in the dark about his fate.
On Friday, the very day the five-year period ended, Pollard was finally informed that the restrictions would be lifted.
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President Emeritus at the National Council of Young Israel, who has been one of Pollard’s staunchest allies for decades, told Hamodia Froday, “Zeh hayom asah Hashem, nogilah v’nismachah boh. The first thing Jonathan told me was that he is grateful that he wasn’t called down to the parole office at 4:00, and was able to return home before Shabbos. That shows what type of person he is. At such a moment, his primary concern was shemiras Shabbos.”
Pollard’s attorneys said in the statement that their client “is happy to finally be able to assist his beloved wife Esther, who is fighting an aggressive form of cancer,” and that he “would like people to know that it was his wife, more than anyone else, who kept him alive during all the years he was in prison.” Pollard also thanked his attorneys, Rabbi Lerner, many others who have assisted him throughout the decades, and “all people of good will who have kept him in their prayers and hoped for this day.”