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After 30 Years Behind Bars, Spy Is Now 'Home'

Jonathan Pollard, ex-analyst for US Navy, has been granted citizenship in Israel
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 30, 2020 9:40 AM CST

(Newser) – Jonathan Pollard, who spent 30 years in US prison for spying for Israel, arrived in Israel early Wednesday with his wife, triumphantly kissing the ground as he disembarked from the aircraft. "We are ecstatic to be home at last after 35 years," Pollard said as he was greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, per the AP. The Israeli leader jubilantly presented Pollard and his wife, Esther, with Israeli ID cards, granting them citizenship. "You're home," he said. Pollard arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport on a private plane provided by Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire supporter of Netanyahu and President Trump. After exiting the aircraft, Pollard, 66, got on his knees and kissed the ground, followed by his wife, who's battling cancer. Pollard thanked Netanyahu and the Jewish people for supporting him, saying "we hope to become productive citizens as soon ... as possible."

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Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy, sold military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon in the 1980s. He was arrested in 1985 after trying unsuccessfully to gain asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and pleaded guilty. He served 30 years in federal prison before a five-year parole period that ended in November. Despite the damage he caused to US-Israel relations over the years, Pollard was warmly embraced by Israel's nationalist politicians. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin welcomed him in a tweet, and lawmakers from Netanyahu's Likud party and its allies tweeted congratulations and greetings to the Pollards, who left from the airport for an undisclosed location. The Ynet website said the couple was in quarantine, which is mandatory for all returning Israelis as a measure to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

(Read more Jonathan Pollard stories.)

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