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Jonathan Pollard, Convicted US Spy, Not Allowed At Father's Funeral

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Israeli protesters hold posters demanding the release of Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish American who was jailed for life in 1987 on charges of spying on the United States, as they stand outside the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, June 19, 2011. Israelis are rallying behind convicted spy Jonathan Pollard like never before, urging the U.S. on Sunday to let the former Pentagon analyst leave prison to attend his father's funeral. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty) | AP

MISHAWAKA, Indiana — A former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel was not permitted to attend his father's funeral in Indiana on Monday, despite requests from Israeli officials that he be allowed out of prison to pay his respects.

The White House also had spurned Israeli appeals to let Jonathan Pollard visit his father, Morris Pollard, before he died Saturday at the age of 95.

U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said Pollard remained at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina on Monday. Pollard's lawyer, Eliot Lauer, said via email that Pollard had sought permission from the Bureau of Prisons since June 14 to see his dying father and then asked to attend the funeral in Indiana. Lauer said he faxed a request as late as Sunday evening.

"We made it clear that we would assume any costs associated with accommodating the request and that we were available throughout the night to work out logistics," Lauer wrote. "The request was denied without explanation."

Pollard 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.

Arrested in 1985 after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Pollard was convicted and sentenced two years later to life in prison. He is scheduled for release in 2015, according to a U.S. Justice Department website.

About 100 people attended the service and funeral for Morris Pollard, who was a prominent researcher on viral diseases and a retired biology professor at the University of Notre Dame. The service was held in a chapel at the Hebrew Orthodox Cemetery in Mishawaka, near South Bend.

The only mention of Jonathan Pollard during the hourlong ceremony came when his sister, Carol Pollard-Levy of Hamden, Connecticut, said one of her father's few regrets was "not being able to help his son achieve freedom."

Morris Pollard kept trying to secure his son's release from prison, even though for years he would not accept telephone calls from his father or allow him to visit. The Jerusalem Post reported that the two spoke on the phone in the past week.

Lauer criticized the Bureau of Prison's decision not to allow Jonathan Pollard to visit his father before he died.

"Morris Pollard served his country well and bravely so he deserved to be afforded the decency of seeing his son before he passed on and at the least the Government owed Morris the respect to allow his son to attend his father's funeral," Lauer wrote. "As for the treatment of Jonathan, the denial is hard to comprehend in light of the practice of the Bureau in so many other situations."

Nearly two-thirds of the members of Israel's parliament had signed a petition calling for Pollard to be allowed to attend the funeral. Dozens rallied for Pollard in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

Supporters of Pollard say he has languished in prison far longer than others spies convicted of far worse crimes against America and that he passed on secrets that were supposed to be shared with Israel anyway.

Pollard, 56, was granted Israeli citizenship in the late 1990s during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first tenure in office. When Netanyahu was out of office, he visited Pollard in prison. In January, Netanyahu made a formal appeal to the U.S. for his release and on Sunday his office said it had contacted Washington in hopes of at least getting him out for the funeral.

A string of top American officials, including former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, and former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle, have also lobbied for Pollard's freedom.

Before he died, Morris Pollard said he couldn't sleep at night because of his son's incarceration. He called it "an overwhelming miscarriage of justice."


Tom Coyne can be reached at