WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jonathan Pollard was turned down in his first application for parole.
“The breadth and scope of the classified information that you sold to the Israelis was the greatest compromise of U.S. security to that date,” the parole commission said in an August letter to the Israeli spy, according to The Jerusalem Post, which obtained the letter and broke the news in a cover story in its Friday magazine.
“You passed thousands of Top Secret documents to Israeli agents, threatening U.S. relations in the Middle East among the Arab countries,” the parole commission letter said. “Given all this information, paroling you at this time would depreciate the seriousness of the offense and promote disrespect for the law.”
Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst who was sentenced to life in 1987 after being arrested two years earlier, had not applied for parole until now, the Post said, in part because he favored a presidential commutation, which would release him unconditionally. He has been eligible to apply for parole for 19 years.
Parole likely would require a period of remaining in the United States. Pollard, 60, was made an Israeli citizen in the 1990s and wants to move to Israel.
Part of what changed Pollard’s mind was an Israeli television interview with President Obama in March 2013 in which the U.S. leader said that he would make sure that Pollard “is accorded the same kinds of review and same examination of the equities that any other individual would be provided.”
Pollard, the Post said, understood that to mean that Obama would ensure that any parole process would be fair.
Last week, Obama received a letter from former senior U.S. government officials familiar with the classified letter written by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger that reportedly is keeping Pollard in prison strongly criticizing the parole process as “deeply flawed.”
The officials, including former CIA director James Woolsey; former U.S. National Security Advisor Robert MacFarlane; former chairmen of the Senate Intelligence Committee; and Sens. Dennis DeConcini and David Durenburger, said in the letter that by calling Pollard’s crime “the greatest compromise of U.S. security to that date,” the Parole Commission Decision document bases its decision to deny parole on “a patently false claim.”
This claim, wrote the officials, “is false and is not supported by any evidence in the public record or the classified file.”
They also pointed out that the commission ignored documentary evidence that mitigated in favor of Pollard’s release, as well as the recommendations by top level officials with firsthand knowledge of the case that called for Pollard’s unconditional release.
The parole commission said it would review Pollard’s case again next year.