Friday, June 4, 2010

Spy Jonathan Pollard Pled Guilty On This Date

Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard pled guilty to charges of spying for Israel on this date back in 1986.  He remains in federal prison to this day. If you don't remember his sensational case, you may remember hearing his name come up every time a US President leaves office and the topic of who will be granted a presidential pardon arises. You can watch an excellent 3 minute summary of his case HERE. It includes hidden camera footage of Pollard in his office pocketing secret documents that was just released by the FBI for the first time earlier this year.

Pollard, who is Jewish, claimed that he passed classified information to Israel because he was angry that the United States was not sharing all that it knew with its smaller, vulnerable ally. But Pollard was also paid handsomely by the Israelis for his efforts, both tens of thousands of dollars in cash as well as jewels. And later he also began stealing documents related to China and passing them to his wife, to advance her personal business interests. 

Pollard's espionage was discovered first by a co-worker in 1985.  Sensing he was about to be arrested, Pollard and his wife Anne fled in his car to the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., and asked franticly for asylum. The FBI was right on his tail, literally, as he pulled up to the compound.  To his horror and utter amazement, Pollard was turned away at the gate.  The Israelis claimed at the time that they had never heard of him. (They only officially admitted that he had indeed been a spy in 1998.) Pollard was arrested on the spot and later accepted a plea deal in exchange for leniency for he and his wife.

After giving an ill-advised, self-serving jailhouse interview to 60 Minutes before his sentencing, Pollard was bitterly surprised by the life sentence he received in March 1987.  His wife was given 5 years, but was paroled after three and a half.  They divorced soon after her release. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, of all people, wrote an excellent, contemporary account of this case back in 1989 called Territory of Lies. At the time Blitzer was the Washington bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post newspaper, a position he had held since 1973.

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