US

Israeli Spy Sentenced To Life In Prison For Espionage Will Be Released

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

The United States Parole Commission announced Tuesday that Jonathan Pollard, a spy sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for sending classified documents to the Israeli government, will soon be released.

The date of his parole was scheduled long in advance, but it was up to the government panel to decide whether to extend his punishment, The New York Times reports. The commission voted unanimously in favor of release.

For 30 years, Pollard has sat in a North Carolina prison, after he was caught shipping suitcases of sensitive documents to the Israeli government. At the time, Pollard was a civilian Navy analyst. He tried to attain asylum at the Israeli embassy but was spurned. The FBI then arrested him. Israel initially refused to say he was their spy, but in 1998, finally admitted to the relationship.

As the Department of Justice has no objection, Pollard will walk November 21.

White House officials have strenuously denied that Pollard’s release has anything to do with the recently signed Iranian nuclear deal, to which Israel strongly objects. Pollard was denied parole a year ago at his first hearing.

“Mr. Pollard would like to thank the many thousands of well-wishers in the United States, in Israel and throughout the world, who provided grass-roots support by attending rallies, sending letters, making phone calls to elected officials and saying prayers for his welfare, Pollard’s lawyers said in a statement to The New York Times. “He is deeply appreciative of every gesture, large or small.”

Several administrations have entertained requests from the Israeli government to free Pollard, but ultimately, the requests were ignored.

Pollard will have to remain in the U.S. for five years as part of parole conditions. His lawyers have urged President Barack Obama to use his clemency powers to release Pollard sooner and allow him to return to Israel, where he was granted citizenship in 1996. If the U.S. government denies his request to leave before the five years are up, Pollard plans to settle in New York.

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