Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard released from parole and due to move to Israel

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard released from parole and due to move to Israel
Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, exits following a hearing at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York - Reuters
Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, exits following a hearing at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York – Reuters

Jonathan Pollard, the former US Navy officer convicted of spying for Israel, has finished his parole and is expected to move to the Jewish state in the near future. 

Mr Pollard was one of the most prolific spies in US history and had shared thousands of classified documents with Israel during the Cold War. 

The US Justice Department’s parole commission decided on Friday to allow a travel ban on Mr Pollard to expire after he served 30 years in prison.

According to the New York Times, he is the only American to ever be sentenced with life imprisonment for spying on behalf of an ally.

The espionage affair strained US-Israel relations for decades.

The decision to lift his travel restrictions is being seen as a parting gift to the Israelis from the Trump administration, which has heavily favoured Israel during its term.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has long pushed for the release of Mr Pollard and after granting him Israeli citizenship in 1995, and has tried to bring him to Israel as part of diplomatic negotiations.

“The prime minister expects to see Jonathan Pollard in Israel soon, and together with all Israelis, extends his best wishes to him and his wife Esther,” Mr Netanyahu’s office said in a statement on Saturday night.

Mr Pollard was a young civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy and sold military secrets to the Israelis in exchange for thousands of dollars a month while he was working at the Pentagon in the 1980s.

A year and a half into his espionage he was arrested by FBI agents in 1985 while trying to claim asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington.

The 66-year-old convicted spy was released from federal prison in 2015 after serving 30 years and placed on parole. A five-year travel ban was placed on him as well as parole conditions including a curfew, restrictions on what jobs he could take and a location tag.

“We are grateful and delighted that our client is finally free of any restrictions, and is now a free man in all respects,” Mr Pollard’s lawyers said. “We look forward to seeing our client in Israel.”

His lawyer, Eliot Lauer, told Channel 12 TV that Pollard was “ecstatic” and determined to move to Israel but that it would take some time because Pollard’s wife is undergoing medical treatment for cancer.

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