After 30 long years, it seems Jewish American spy Jonathan Pollard will finally be released from prison. The Algemeiner first reported on a rumor of his possible release, with The Jewish Standard supporting the claim with evidence from a US government website.
Pollard, now 60, was arrested 30 years ago for passing classified information to Israel. He is the only person to have been handed a life sentence for spying on behalf of a US ally. Pollard will be eligible for parole on November 21 of this year, and according to The Algemeiner’s source, the US State Department is “seriously” considering supporting his release. The decision would still be subject to the approval of the parole board.
Pollard turns 61 next month, and has been hospitalized several times in recent years. According to the source, his release would be connected to his failing health, and not any political arrangements. Pollard himself turned down a planned parole hearing in April 2014 when it was connected in reports to an attempt to salvage the US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Pollard was a US government employee, serving as a civilian intelligence analyst, when he passed information to Israel without authorization. He was arrested in 1985, and in 1987 he pled guilty to selling classified information to Israel. Repeated appeals for clemency on the grounds that his sentence is unreasonable have been rejected.
Israeli officials and activists in both Israel and America continue to lobby on his behalf. US government officials opposed to his release cite his motives, which they claim were monetary rather than idealistic, in defense of their position.
In 1995, Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship. The Israeli government apologized at the time of Pollard’s sentencing for its involvement in the matter, but did not officially acknowledge buying information from him until 1998. At least some of the information obtained from Pollard was being withheld by the US despite agreements to share it with Israel.
Although the Federal Bureau of Prisons has long listed November 2015 as Pollard’s official release date, The Algemeiner’s source is the first indication the State Department intends to follow through.