updated 11/13/2003 8:23:16 AM ET 2003-11-13T13:23:16

A federal judge rejected convicted spy Jonathan Pollard’s latest attempt Thursday to fight his life sentence for selling military secrets to Israel.

U.S. DISTRICT Judge Thomas Hogan, the court’s chief judge, also noted in a blunt order that Pollard seemed to have little hope of winning a presidential pardon.

Hogan’s ruling means that Pollard will remain in a federal prison and that his lawyers will not win access to sensitive government documents they hoped would help sway the White House to free their client.

Hogan dismissed Pollard’s claim that previous lawyers did not do all they could to help him avoid or appeal his life sentence.

“Mr. Pollard has couched his claims in alleged violations of constitutional rights, such as ineffective assistance of counsel, but closer inquiry reveals these alleged violations to be merely procedural in nature,” Hogan wrote.

Hogan also denied the request of Pollard’s new lawyers to see five classified documents that they say influenced another federal judge to impose the surprise life term in 1987.

Among those documents is a declaration from Caspar Weinberger, then the secretary of defense, outlining the security damage from Pollard.

Pollard’s new lawyers have argued that they need to see the items to rebut government arguments against any new appeal or against a request for clemency.

“Mr. Pollard and his attorneys have offered no new justification for this court to determine that any of them have a ‘need to know’” what the documents contain, Hogan wrote. “He has presented no credible evidence that the current president is any more willing to grant him clemency than the previous three presidents who declined to do so.”

THOUSANDS OF DOCUMENTS

Pollard 49, 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. He was not paid when his spying began in 1984, but he acknowledged that Israel later began paying him a few thousand dollars a month.

Pollard was caught in November 1985 and arrested after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli Embassy. He initially denied that he worked for Israel but later acknowledged it. He claims that prosecutors reneged on a promise to seek a lesser sentence in return for his cooperation.

His case has been a sticking point in U.S.-Israeli relations. The Israeli government, which granted Pollard citizenship, has repeatedly pressed for his release.

A 1998 U.S.-brokered peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians nearly foundered when then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly linked his agreement to the deal with clemency for Pollard.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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