New spy case renews call for Pollard clemency

A 10-year maximum prison sentence set for an Iranian engineer accused of spying on the United States spurred a new call in Israel for the release of Jonathan Pollard.

Mozaffar Khazaee, 59, a dual Iranian-U.S. citizen, was arrested last week at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey for attempting to smuggle to Iran blueprints for the F-35 joint strike fighter, which will be the U.S. Defense Department’s most advanced fighter jet. He reportedly was planning to fly to Tehran through Germany.

A statement by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Connecticut said the maximum sentence for such a crime is 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Nahman Shai of Israel’s Labor Party said the sentence for Khazaee raises the question of why Pollard was given a life sentence and still has not received clemency. Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy analyst when he was arrested for spying for Israel, has spent nearly three decades in prison.

“Pollard has served more than 28 years for spying for an ally. Spying for Iran is much worse,” said Shai, who heads the Knesset’s Pollard lobby, according to a Jerusalem Post report on Jan. 15.

In a New York Times op-ed published Jan. 14, M.E. Bowman, the liaison officer for the Department of Defense to the Department of Justice at the time of Pollard’s trial and sentencing, countered this, saying “there are no other Americans who have given over to an ally information of the quantity and quality that Mr. Pollard has.”

The F-35 is expected to bolster the air fleets of the United States and Israel, as well as several other countries. — jta