Jonathan Pollard was released from prison Friday after 30 years behind bars for spying for Israel, and his lawyers immediately went to court to challenge tough parole conditions seemingly designed to ensure he doesn’t spill any secrets he might have left.
The 61-year-old former Navy intelligence analyst was set free before daybreak from a medium-security federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, after being paroled from a life sentence that had turned him into a continual source of tension between the U.S. and Israel.
Under the rules of his release, he must wear a GPS unit to transmit his whereabouts at all times, allow the installation of monitoring equipment on any computers he uses at work or at home, and agree to periodic, unannounced inspections of those machines.
“The notion that, having fought for and finally obtained his release after serving 30 years in prison, Mr. Pollard will now disclose stale, 30-year-old information to anyone is preposterous,” his lawyers, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semme lman, said in a statement.
Hours after his release from prison, Pollard checked in with probation officers at a federal courthouse in New York City, then emerged into a throng of journalists.He wore a yarmulke and a slight smile.
“I can’t comment on anything today,” he said, his wife, Esther, on his arm.
Despite parole requirements that he remain in the U.S. for at least five years, Pollard has expressed a desire to renounce his American citizenship and move to Israel, where he is seen by some as a national hero. But the White House opposes the request.
U.S.intelligence officials have long argued that Pollard, who pleaded guilty in 1986 to conspiracy to commit espionage, did severe damage to the United States during the Cold War by giving away an enormous volume of military intelligence secrets that some suspect wound up in Soviet hands.
His defenders have contended that his punishment was overly harsh for helping a close U.S. ally.
The prosecutor who handled the case, former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova, said it is legitimate for the government to be concerned that Pollard might still have secrets to tell.
“Anyone who obtained as much information as Mr. Pollard did over an extended period of time is perfectly capable of revealing … information that he might have in his brain locked away somewhere,” he said. “It is perfectly understandable that the government would want to do those types of examinations of computers and other services.”
Pollard’s lawyers submitted a statement from former U.S. national security adviser Robert McFarlane dismissing such concerns.
“To the extent Mr. Pollard even recalls any classified information, it would date back 30 years or more, and would have no value to anyone today,” he said.
Kenneth Lasson, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who supported Pollard’s bid to have his sentence shortened, said the GPS monitoring and computer inspections amount to “vindictiveness by a petty-minded government.” He said the U.S. should grant Pollard’s request to leave the country.
“What they are afraid of?” he asked. “I think what they are afraid of is that he’s going to be received as a hero by the Israeli public.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded Pollard’s freedom, saying in a statement: “As someone who raised Jonathan’s case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come.”
For now, Pollard will live New York, where his lawyers said he landed a job in the finance department of an investment firm. They would not identify it.
Pollard’s lawyers also complained that wearing a GPS device would be harmful to his health because he has severe diabetes and chronic swelling in his legs and ankles.
Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
Nigeria Spends N231.27 Billion on Arms Procurement in Four Years Amidst Rising Security Challenges
The Federal Government of Nigeria has disbursed a total of N231.27 billion for arms and ammunition procurement over the past four years.
Despite this significant investment, security agencies argue that the allocated funds are insufficient to effectively tackle the myriad security challenges afflicting the nation.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, defended the substantial budget for arms purchases during a session with the House of Representatives.
He emphasized that Nigeria’s dependence on foreign countries for military hardware, which are priced in dollars, diminishes the impact of the substantial budget when converted to the local currency.
General Musa explained, “We don’t produce what we need in Nigeria, and if you do not produce what you need, that means you are at the beck and call of the people that produce these items. All the items we procured were bought with hard currency, none in naira.”
He further illustrated the challenges faced, citing that a precision missile for drones costs $5,000, underscoring the magnitude of the expenses associated with arms procurement.
An analysis of the annual budgets for the Ministry of Defence and eight other armed forces from 2020 to 2022 reveals allocations of N11.72 billion, N10.78 billion, and N9.64 billion, respectively.
In 2023, N47.02 billion was disbursed for arms procurement, supplemented by a recently passed budget of N184.25 billion, resulting in a total of N231.27 billion.
Security expert Chidi Omeje raised concerns about the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), which is tasked with manufacturing arms locally. Omeje criticized DICON’s underperformance, urging the government to revamp the agency to reduce reliance on foreign nations for arms and ammunition.
Omeje stressed, “The new government must make sure that DICON lives up to its responsibilities,” highlighting the urgency of fostering self-sufficiency in arms production to address the country’s security challenges effectively.
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