Convicted spy Pollard loses bid to relax U.S. parole conditions

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a bid by Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, to relax his parole conditions.

FILE PHOTO: Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, exits following a hearing at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York City, U.S., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the U.S. Parole Commission acted within its discretion in requiring Pollard to wear an electronic tracking device, obey a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, and allow his computers to be monitored.

Pollard, 62, was paroled in November 2015 after serving 30 years of a life sentence for espionage.

He had said the parole conditions were too severe because he was neither a flight risk, nor a threat to disseminate or even remember classified information he learned decades ago. Pollard also said the conditions have prevented him from getting a job.

But the court said parole officials could consider both Pollard’s alleged “propensity to dissemble,” as well as the assessment by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that documents compromised by Pollard remained classified.

Pollard’s parole conditions “minimized the risk of harm he continued to pose for United States intelligence,” the three-judge appeals court panel said.

Eliot Lauer, a lawyer for Pollard, said in an email he was disappointed in the outcome, and that the court declined to “confront the Commission on the manifest injustice of these onerous and unnecessary restrictions.”

A spokeswoman for Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan declined to comment.

U.S. authorities accused Pollard of having in 1984 and 1985 provided Israeli contacts with suitcases full of classified documents in exchange for thousands of dollars of payments.

Pollard pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in 1986 and was sentenced to life in prison the next year. Prior to being paroled, he had been held in custody since his 1985 arrest.

Now living in New York City, Pollard must remain in the United States for five years, and cannot move to Israel to join his wife, who lives there.

Israel has long sought his release, and in a gesture of solidarity granted Pollard citizenship in 1995.

Wednesday’s decision upheld an August 2016 ruling by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan.

The case is Pollard v. U.S. Parole Commission et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 16-2918.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr and Frances Kerry