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HomeNewsPoliticsIsraeli Spy Jonathan Pollard Set to Be Released in November

Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard Set to Be Released in November


Jonathan J. Pollard during an interview in 1998 at the federal prison in Butner, N.C., where he is still being held. (Photo: Karl Deblaker/AP)

WASHINGTON — Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for passing classified documents to the Israeli government, will be released on parole in November.

Pollard’s lawyers made the announcement following the decision of the United States Parole Commission on Tuesday afternoon. Pollard, 60, was scheduled for mandatory parole in November but could have been detained in prison if the government fought the release on the grounds national security concerns remained.

The Department of Justice confirmed that he had been granted parole just a week after they signaled they would not object to Mr. Pollard’s release if the United States Parole Commission determined that he should be granted parole. The lawyers for Mr. Pollard said that he would be released on November 21, though reports have surfaced claiming he could be released immediately.

“The Department of Justice has always maintained that Jonathan Pollard should serve his full sentence for the serious crimes he committed, which in this case is a 30-year sentence, as mandated by statute, ending Nov. 21, 2015,” Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for the department, said in a statement.

The decision to release Mr. Pollard comes just weeks after the Obama administration announced a historic — and deeply unpopular — Iran nuclear agreement. The Iran deal has angered the Israeli government, which has been pushing for Pollard’ released and warning the deal will “pave the way” for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

“Mr. Pollard is looking forward to being reunited with his beloved wife Esther,” Pollard’ lawyers said in a statement, which did not mention the possibility of an earlier release date.

White House officials, as of Wednesday morning, have denied reports that Mr. Pollard’s release is imminent. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and other Israeli leaders — have demanded Pollard’s release for years.

“Mr. Pollard’s status will be determined by the United States Parole Commission according to standard procedures,” Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said last week. “There is absolutely zero linkage between Mr. Pollard’s status and foreign policy considerations. 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. He is deeply appreciative of every gesture, large or small.”

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