US Dangles Notorious Israel Spy's Freedom to Save Talks

Jonathan Pollard swiped Navy secrets in 1980s
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2014 2:07 AM CDT
To Save Talks, US May Free Israeli Spy
This May 15, 1998 photo shows Jonathan Pollard speaking during an interview in a conference room at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, NC.   (AP Photo/Karl DeBlaker, File)

With Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the brink of collapse, the US has pulled out a major bargaining chip: jailed spy Jonathan Pollard. The former civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel, and the Obama administration is considering releasing him early to help get the talks back on track, officials tell the Washington Post. John Kerry arrived in Israel yesterday to try to save negotiations stalled over the release of Palestinian prisoners, reports the New York Times.

Pollard, 59, received a life sentence in 1987 following a 1985 arrest for handing classified info to Israeli agents; he'll be eligible for parole in November of next year. The Israeli government, which granted him citizenship in 1995, has long lobbied for his release, but analysts believe the chances of him actually going free anytime soon are slim, the Christian Science Monitor finds. "No other spy in the history of the United States stole so many secrets, so highly classified, in such a short period of time," retired Navy lawyer Spike Bowman, the senior legal adviser to Navy intelligence at the time of the case, said in 2010. And according to an Israeli official, Pollard doesn't want out as part of this "shameful deal" anyway, reports the AP. (More Jonathan Pollard stories.)

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