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Low Expectations Regarding Pollard

No breakthrough is expected in the matter of Jonathan Pollard's release, despite the court session yesterday. "The Jonathan Pollard case is a stain on the American legal process," his attorney Eliot Lauer said.

First Publish: 9/3/2003, 10:34 AM

No breakthrough is expected in the matter of Jonathan Pollard's release or re-sentencing, although his attorney Eliot Lauer did say yesterday that there is a "glimmer of hope." Pollard made his first appearance in public in over 16 years yesterday when he arrived in a Washington courtroom for a 90-minute motion hearing. Rabbi Shmuel Zafrani, who accompanied Pollard's spiritual advisor, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, to the courtroom yesterday, said, "The judge did seem attentive to Pollard's case, and even asked, 'What could possibly still be secret after 18 years?' - but we can't hang too many hopes on his ruling." Other observers said that even this remark of Judge Hogan's was not meant in Pollard's favor.

Pollard was sentenced, in opposition to a plea bargain agreement, to life in prison - yet his lawyer at the time did not file a routine appeal. It is still not clear why the lawyer failed to do so, but the result was that Pollard was prevented from appealing his sentence. His current lawyers, therefore, are demanding a re-sentencing session.

The lawyers also demand access to the classified information that served as the basis for the severe sentence. Though lawyers for Pollard have been turned down in three past bids for access to the sealed documents, his attorney Eliot Lauer said that new information has greatly strengthened their case. A letter from a Justice Department official shows that 25 people have been granted access to the same records that the government says Pollard's attorneys, who have security clearances, cannot see. "At the same time the government is arguing that the file is not relevant, government attorneys are looking at the same file," Lauer told the Washington Post. "This case is based on... government misrepresentation."

Pollard himself was quiet throughout the hearing. About 40 relatives and Pollard supporters packed the court, including his father and New York Congressman Anthony D. Weiner. Pollard-activist Adi Ginzburg said he talked with Pollard's wife Esther, who told him that she was shocked to see that no official Israeli representative was there, even though her husband is an official Israeli agent, "and that this is a clear statement about Israel's official attitude." Prime Minister Sharon's spokesman said afterwards that the government "will exert all efforts to bring about Pollard's release." Rabbi Eliyahu led a prayer service on behalf of Pollard's freedom following the hearing.

"The Jonathan Pollard case is a stain on the American legal process," Lauer said. "The government agreed they would not seek a life sentence, and that's exactly what they did... and Jonathan Pollard has repeatedly been denied justice."

Pollard's attorneys want to see a 1987 letter from former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to the court that details the damage Pollard caused. Lauer said that some of the espionage attributed to Pollard may have been committed by other spies, but more importantly, that the sealed documents may show that Weinberger and the government forecast harm from Pollard's spying that never occurred. In this connection, Adi Ginzburg told Arutz-7 today that Weinberger himself wrote an autobiography in which he did not so much as mention Pollard - this, despite the fact that his letter to the court labeled Pollard "the worst spy in American history." When asked why such a "notorious" character was not mentioned in his book, Weinberger said, "We thought at the time that he was something big, but it turned out that he was something small."