An attorney for Jonathan Jay Pollard, the convicted spy for Israel, yesterday asked the federal judge who sentenced Pollard to life in prison without parole to reduce the sentence, repeating his claim that "the damage to the United States from his conduct was minimal."

Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said in an affidavit presented at Pollard's sentencing on March 4 that Pollard's sale to the Israelis of more than 1,000 classified documents was "treason" and that the information involved was of "critical importance."

The request was made public one day after Pollard's wife, Anne Henderson-Pollard, asked Chief U.S. District Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. to reduce her five-year sentence for helping her husband in his crimes to the approximately seven months she has served.

The court papers were filed on Jonathan Pollard's behalf by his attorney, Richard A. Hibey, and claim that the government breached its plea agreement with Pollard by failing to give proper credit to his cooperation with prosecutors.

A life sentence "might satisfy visceral reactions to this crime but will make it all the more difficult to obtain full cooperation from suspects in future cases," the documents said.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.