WT - Court Rejects Jailed Spy's Appeal
July 23, 2005
Court Rejects Jailed Spy's Appeal
By Sam Hananel, Associated Press
A federal appeals court yesterday rejected convicted spy Jonathan Pollard's latest effort to reduce the life sentence he received for selling military secrets to Israel while working as an intelligence analyst for the Navy.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that Pollard waited too long to try to contest his 1987 sentence and failed to make a convincing case that he got shoddy legal help.
The court also ruled that it had no authority to review Pollard's request to see secret documents the Reagan administration submitted to the judge who imposed the sentence 18 years ago.
Pollard's lawyers said they wanted to see the material to rebut government arguments against any new appeal or against a request for presidential clemency.
Pollard faulted his original lawyer for not filing a notice of appeal in 1986 when the government, according to his lawyers, in effect sought a term of life imprisonment after promising it would not do so.
Writing for a three-judge panel, Judge David Sentelle rejected as "nonsensical" the argument that Pollard did not realize the purported mistake by his lawyer at the time.
"Pollard knew the facts," Judge Sentelle said. "What he now claims not to have known is the legal significance of these facts."
Eliot Lauer, Pollard's attorney, said he was "very disappointed" with the opinion and may file a request for a rehearing from the full appeals court or seek appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"We hope that in time the American judicial system will give Jonathan Pollard his rightful day in court and that justice will be done," Mr. Lauer said.
The legal challenge to Pollard's sentence was always viewed as a long shot, and his supporters have focused much of their effort on winning presidential clemency.
Pollard, who turns 51 next month, was a civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy when he copied and gave to his Israeli handlers enough classified documents to fill a walk-in closet. He was not paid when his spying began in 1984, but acknowledged that Israel later began paying him a few thousand dollars a month.
He was caught in November 1985 and arrested after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli Embassy. Pollard initially denied he worked for Israel but later acknowledged it. He contends that prosecutors reneged on a promise to seek a lesser sentence in return for his cooperation.
His case has been a sticking point in U.S.-Israeli relations. The Israeli government, which granted Pollard citizenship, repeatedly has pressed for his release.
Mr. Lauer said Pollard does not have a formal request for clemency pending with the Bush administration. Federal officials reviewed his case in 2000, but he was left off the list of those granted clemency just before President Clinton left office.
Pollard is being held at a federal prison in Butner, N.C.