NEW YORK, JULY 18 -- Anne Pollard, the ailing wife of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, who has been campaigning for her husband's release from prison since her own incarceration ended in March, said today she has been served with divorce papers.
The papers were delivered to her bed at Mount Sinai Hospital, where Pollard is being treated for intestinal disorders, by a process server posing as a hospital orderly, her attorney said.
"I'm in shock," Pollard, 30, said in a whispered voice from her hospital bed. "It's the last thing in the world I would've expected. I've given my life to my husband."
Asked why her husband, whom she has not seen since their 1987 sentencing, would seek a divorce, Pollard said, "My poor husband has been in isolation now for nearly five years." She then broke off the telephone interview, saying, "I'm really having problems talking about this. This is a very bad time for me."
Her attorney, Mark Baker, said that some of Jonathan Pollard's relatives apparently turned him against his wife during his years of solitary confinement at the federal prison in Marion, Ill. "The only thing he knows about her is what he's been told by his sister and father and his lawyers... . The whole thing is somewhat unseemly," Baker said.
Jonathan Pollard's Washington lawyer, Judith Barnett, denied that family members had influenced the decision, saying, "This is 100 percent Jonathan's action." She said he had given the matter "an unbelievable amount of thought" and "very deeply regrets" the split, but believes that "irreconcilable differences" have "caused a breakdown in the marriage."
A former Navy counterintelligence analyst who worked and lived in Washington, Jonathan Pollard pleaded guilty to espionage conspiracy in 1986 after selling classified documents to Israel for more than $45,000 in cash and the promise of at least $300,000 more. He was sentenced to life in prison and remains in solitary confinement.
Pollard, 35, who has said he acted out of loyalty to Israel, is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea on grounds that it was coerced because the government would not accept a plea from his wife unless he admitted guilt as well. He also says federal prosecutors broke their promise not to seek a life sentence.
When the life term was pronounced, Anne Pollard collapsed to the floor, shouting "God!" and "No! No!"
Anne Pollard, a gaunt woman with reddish-blond hair, pleaded guilty to receiving stolen government documents from her husband and being an accessory after the fact. Pollard's attorney said hers were victimless crimes, but federal prosecutors called her a "willing partner in crime" and "a mercenary driven by need and greed," citing her acceptance of a $10,000 sapphire and diamond engagement ring provided by the Israelis. The couple were married in August 1985, three months before their arrest.
Anne Pollard says she pleaded guilty to help win leniency for her husband. She was sentenced to five years in prison, where her stomach disorders grew worse, and was released from a New York halfway house in March after serving more than 3 1/2 years.
Her father, Bernard Henderson, a Manhattan public relations executive, said his daughter has been speaking to Jewish and civic groups "five or six times a week, incessantly in an effort to win her husband's release.
"She talked to him about two months ago and suddenly he stopped calling her," Henderson said.
Pollard had been scheduled to visit her husband at Marion for the first time earlier this month before flying to Israel for medical treatment, Henderson said, but the visit was canceled after she was hospitalized June 30.
Baker said that Jonathan Pollard had attempted to impose extraordinary conditions on his wife's visit, insisting that his attorney had to be present. "Jonathan Pollard refused to see his wife alone," Baker said.
After Anne Pollard was hospitalized for the fourth time since her release, Baker said, her husband's relatives were quoted by a Jewish press agency as saying that she refused to visit him. "She's emotionally devastated," Baker said.
Henderson said his daughter was recently diagnosed as having pancreatic disease and may need surgery. An Israeli insurance company is paying her medical bills as a humanitarian gesture, according to Baker.