US Frees Israeli Spy, With a Catch

Jonathan Pollard is out, but he can't go to Israel, at least for now
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2015 2:09 AM CST
Updated Nov 20, 2015 6:58 AM CST
US Set to Free Israeli Spy, With a Catch
In this May 15, 1998, photo, Jonathan Pollard speaks during an interview in a conference room at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, NC.   (AP Photo/Karl DeBlaker, File)

Jonathan Pollard is considered a traitor in the US and a hero in Israel, but he's going to have to stay in the former country for at least five years. Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel and given a life sentence in 1987, was released on parole from a federal prison in North Carolina on Friday under terms that ban him from leaving the US until 2020, the BBC reports. At least two Democratic lawmakers have asked President Obama to grant the 61-year-old's request to join his wife, Esther, in Israel, the New York Times reports, but officials seem unwilling to ease the parole conditions despite a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Still, Netanyahu praised his release today, saying, "As someone who raised Jonathan's case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come," per the AP.

Pollard, who was working as a Navy intelligence analyst when he gave classified information to Israel, was granted Israeli citizenship in 1996, two years before the country acknowledged he was an agent, the BBC notes. "There is nothing good that came as a result of my actions," Pollard told the AP in a 1998 interview. "I tried to serve two countries at the same time. That does not work." If he's unable to move to Israel, Pollard plans to live and work in New York City, reports the Times, which notes that he is the only American to get a life sentence for spying for a US ally. (Last year, the US offered to free Pollard early to get Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track.)

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