20 July 2015

Pray, Pray, Pray for Jonathan Pollard!

4 Av 5775

Some have sent me emails about the recent reports in the media regarding a possible November release of Jonathan Pollard from prison. Following seems to be the most accurate account available at this time...

Still No Official Word on Pollard Release
By Avraham Weissman

Sunday, July 19, 2015 | ג' אב תשע"ה

NEW YORK - Despite a recent flurry of news reports based on an unnamed “senate source” announcing the release of Jonathan Pollard on parole this coming November, federal authorities have yet to issue a decision on the matter.

Pollard has now served nearly 30 years of an unprecedented life sentence for passing classified information to an ally, Israel. The median sentence for this offense is two to four years.

According to Eliot Lauer — who, along with Jacques Semmelman, has served as Pollard’s pro-bono attorney since 2000 — the Parole Commission must issue a “Notice of Action” officially stating its decision to either release Pollard or to deny him parole and continue his sentence to 45 years or more.

The legal team and Pollard would be the first to be notified of such a decision — and no one has received any such official notice to date.

It is not known when the Parole Commission will hand down their decision, but Lauer said the authorities could issue such a notice at any time, even just shortly before Pollard’s projected release date.

As previously reported in Hamodia, the Bureau of Prisons website has, for years, shown a “projected release” date for Pollard of November 21, 2015 — which is precisely 30 years since he was first arrested.

Pollard was arrested in 1985 and sentenced in 1987. At that time a “life” sentence in the United States was defined as 45 years or more; therefore, the 30 years that Pollard has served is two-thirds of the life sentence he received. His life sentence — unprecedented for the offense he committed in passing classified information to an ally — has been widely decried by knowledgeable U.S. officials as a travesty of justice. Nevertheless, the Parole Commission recently informed Pollard in writing that this projected release date is “not automatic,” and may be continued to 45 years or more. The Parole Commission is purportedly an independent arm of the Department of Justice.

During Friday’s daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was pressed by reporters as to whether Pollard would be released as a way to assuage Israeli concerns over the Iran deal.

“I’m certainly not aware of any sort of renewed discussion about what had been previously discussed about releasing him outside of the normal Department of Justice procedures that are in place,” Earnest said.

The decades-long ordeal of Pollard has included numerous occasions of broken promises, false hopes and shattered expectations.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, who has been at the forefront of efforts to gain Pollard’s release for more than two decades, urged tefillah.

“This is a sensitive time. This is a time for tefillah to beseech Heaven to open the hearts and minds of the authorities to do what is right and good in the eyes of G-d and man and release Yehonoson ben Malka without any further delay,” Rabbi Lerner said.