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Home What's New Latest news U.S. Officials Deny Ailing Spy Access to Press

U.S. Officials Deny Ailing Spy Access to Press

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By TAMAR LEWIN | Published: June 7, 1988

LEAD: For at least five months, the Department of Justice has denied Anne Henderson Pollard, who is serving a Federal prison term for espionage, the right to speak to the press, even on issues relating to her health and medical treatment. 

For at least five months, the Department of Justice has denied Anne Henderson Pollard, who is serving a Federal prison term for espionage, the right to speak to the press, even on issues relating to her health and medical treatment. 

Mrs. Pollard, 28 years old, has a history of gastrointestinal disorders. She was sentenced in March 1987 to a five-year prison term for helping her husband, Jonathan Jay Pollard, sell classified documents to Israel. Mr. Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy, is serving a life sentence for espionage. 

Last month, Mrs. Pollard was moved from a Lexington, Ky., prison to one in Rochester, Minn., and her lawyer, Nathan Dershowitz, was told that the transfer had been made to make it easier for her to see medical specialists. Mr. Dershowitz said that Mrs. Pollard had not yet been allowed to see the specialist of her choice, Dr. Michael Goldberg of the University of Illinois, who has treated her in the past. Security Risk Is Cited 

As part of her plea bargain, Mrs. Pollard in 1986 agreed that she would not disclose classified information. The Federal Government said the restriction was necessary for national security reasons and meant that she cannot see or speak with reporters. 

According to Mr. Dershowitz, Mrs. Pollard said in a telephone call yesterday that the Minnesota prison officials asked her last week to sign a form restricting her access to those outside the prison. Mr. Dershowitz said he had not seen the form. 

''Anne says the form had a host of restrictions, including that she not speak to the press at all, and that she not make telephone calls to anyone except counsel unless she is monitored,'' said Mr. Dershowitz. 

Robert Mundt, acting executive assistant at the Minnesota prison, said the form Mrs. Pollard was asked to sign simply reiterated the restrictions that have applied to her all along. 

''We asked her to agree to them and she refused to sign, and then we asked her to sign just to acknowledge receipt of them, and she refused that, too,'' he said. 

After speaking to a reporter, Mr. Mundt said Mrs. Pollard would be given a copy of the form to send to her lawyer. 

Although Justice Department officials have said that Mrs. Pollard is not allowed any face-to-face contact with the press, one Israeli journalist was allowed to see both Mr. and Mrs. Pollard in April, apparently through the intervention of the State Department. 

''I found Anne in the most terrible situation, bent over, holding her belly in pain all the time, slightly yellowish, and unable to talk, only whisper,'' the Israeli journalist, Amnon Dror, said in a telephone interview from Tel Aviv. 

Mr. Dror stressed that he had made the visit not as a journalist but as a representative of a private Israeli citizens' committee interested in the Pollard case. 

''I really do not know why they allowed me in,'' he said. The Times Requests an Interview 

The New York Times initially made a written request to interview Mrs. Pollard about her health and medical treatment in January. In a letter to L.E. DuBois, the warden of the Lexington prison where Mrs. Pollard was then held, The Times said it was ''well aware of the national security aspects of this case'' and that the newspaper ''would feel bound to abide by whatever national security guidelines you set as a condition for a interview.'' 

Responding in a Feb. 4 letter, Mr. DuBois cited Mrs. Pollard's plea agreement as barring her from speaking with reporters, and said, ''All interviews given by Mrs. Pollard must be entirely in writing.'' 

In early May, a lawyer for The Times challenged that interpretation of the plea agreement, stressing that the newspaper was not interested in obtaining any classified information or even discussing the events that led to Mrs. Pollard's incarceration.

''Rather, we seek only to obtain information on her health and medical treatment during her confinement,'' the Times letter said. ''Neither of these issues is remotely connected with any classified information or documents'' protected by the memorandum of understanding Mrs. Pollard signed as part of the plea agreement in 1986. 

''The rules you have set down grossly violate the First Amendment rights both of Mrs. Pollard and of parties who wish to speak with her,'' said the four-page letter signed by Ken Richieri, a member of the newpaper's legal staff. 

Mrs. Pollard's father, Bernard Henderson, who visited her last month in Minnesota, said she is in constant pain, and ''so doubled over that she looks like an old woman.'' 

According to Mr. Dershowitz and Mr. Henderson, Mrs. Pollard has gastroparesis and biliary dyskinesia, and can not digest food normally. As a result, Mr. Henderson says, she has lost 60 pounds and now weighs under 100 pounds. Mr. Henderson says that his daughter's condition is life threatening without proper treatment. 

Mr. Dershowitz said Mrs. Pollard is under the care of Patrick Kamath, a gastrointestinal specialist at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Kamath said he could not discuss the case. Sentence Reduction Sought 

Yesterday, Mr. Dershowitz filed a motion with the United States Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., seeking a reduction of Mrs. Pollard's sentence based on her health problems. 

''The Bureau of Prisons has shown itself to be unable or unwilling to provide adequate medical care for Mrs. Pollard,'' said the brief. ''As a result, she has lived in constant pain for the year and a half that she has already been confined and there has been profound, perhaps irreversible, deterioration in her health. Her continued imprisonment - and resulting continued deprivation of proper medical care - thus constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment which shocks the conscience.'' 

In December, United States District Judge Aubrey Robinson rejected a initial request for a reduction of the sentence that was also based largely on concerns about Mrs. Pollard's health. 

Correction: June 8, 1988, Wednesday, Late City Final Edition 
Because of an editing error, an article and a headline yesterday about Anne Henderson Pollard, a Federal prisoner, misstated the charges against her. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to receive embezzled Government property and to being an accessory to the possession of military documents by her husband, Jonathan Pollard. She was never charged with espionage.

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