NEW YORK (Sep. 11)
A federal judge has turned down Jonathan Pollard’s motion to withdraw the guilty plea that landed him a life term in jail for spying on behalf of Israel.
Pollard, who has served five-and-a-half years of the sentence, contends the government did not live up to its part of the plea bargain. If the judge had accepted his petition, a new trial would have had to be called.
Pollard’s attorney, Hamilton Fox, said the former U.S. naval intelligence officer’s family and supporters were “not surprised” by the ruling, which was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Aubrey Robinson. Fox said the family plans to appeal the decision.
“The judge who denied the motion to withdraw the guilty plea was the same judge who had accepted the plea in the first place,” the attorney said.
“By accepting the plea, he had necessarily determined that the plea was proper. We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will view the issues we have raised from a different perspective,” he said.
A motion to remove Robinson from the case, which was kept under wraps throughout the court’s deliberations, was unveiled Tuesday.
The motion is based on an accusation by Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz that Robinson obtained out-of-court or “ex parte” information from the U.S. government.
The charge stems from a conversation Dershowitz had last autumn with former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg.
Goldberg, who died shortly after that conversation, reportedly told Dershowitz that Robinson had spoken of government evidence that Pollard had provided Israel with U.S. photographs proving Jerusalem had supplied Jericho missiles to South Africa.
But such evidence was never introduced in the court proceedings, Pollard’s attorneys contend.
Pollard’s attorneys argued that the only way to find out if information was inappropriately given to Robinson would be to question the judge himself. Therefore, they contended, Robinson would have to step down from the case.
Robinson denied this motion, in addition to a number of other charges suggesting that the government violated its plea agreement with Pollard.
He also denied a request to allow Pollard’s lawyers access to classified portions of the sentencing memo written by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.