US to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard after 30 years

By @diplomatist10 on
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IN PHOTO: Journalists listen to a speech and a question posed by former U.S. spy agency NSA contractor Edward Snowden, at a media centre during Russian President Vladimir Putin's live broadcast nationwide phone-in, in Moscow April 17, 2014. Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

The United Sates granted parole to Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and he will be freed in November. Pollard has been in U.S jail for almost 30 years. However, the U.S. government denied speculations that Pollard’s release is a gesture to placate Israel for softening its opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

Pollard was a former US Navy intelligence analyst and was caught spying for Israel in 1985. He pleaded guilty in 1987 and was given life term imprisonment. Israel honoured him with the ‘Prisoner of Zion’ tag and accorded citizenship in 1995 and was lobbying for his release ever since. Pollard’s lawyers Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman said the US Department of Justice had notified them in early July that it would not oppose Pollard’s plea for parole during the hearing. The US Secretary of State John Kerry also dismissed speculation that Pollard’s release is linked to the Iran nuclear agreement “Truthfully, I haven't even had a conversation with them,” he said, referring to Israel.

The Israeli government is strongly opposed to Obama regime’s Iran agreement as it feels it is not sufficient to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon that may threaten Israel’s security. Many pro-Israeli groups are now lobbying with the U.S. Congress to vote against the treaty. Israelis also do not see any linkage with Iran deal, as far as Pollard’s release is concerned, said Boaz Bismuth, editor at Israel Today. “There is little the US can do to sweeten the bitter Iran deal,” Bismuth said and added that the tensions between the US and Israel will remain until Congress take a decision final decision to support the agreement or not.

Sensitive Information

Pollard was convicted for giving Israel highly classified information pertaining to Iraqi and Syrian chemical weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear program and Soviet arms shipments to Arab states. Successive US administrations have rejected calls to release Pollard, saying his betrayal was unpardonable and did big damage to US intelligence efforts. Pollard’s former boss, retired admiral Thomas Brooks, in an interview flayed Pollard for leaking the methods deployed by the U.S in collecting information from the Soviet Union. “I think what he did was exceeded only by Edward Snowden,” Brooks said in the interview.

However, it seems Obama administration is willing to use Pollard’s release as a bargaining chip in dealing with Israel. This was reinforced by the claim made by Israel’s Channel 10, in 2013, that the Secretary of State John Kerry offered to release Pollard if Israel agrees to free the last batch of Palestinian prisoners.

Pollard’s Stay

Meanwhile, the question is out as to where Jonathan Pollard will live when he is out of prison on Nov. 20. Obviously, he would be welcome in Israel, where his wife also lives. But the U.S. Parole Commission’s rules require a parolee to remain within the United States, that too in a particular area and report regularly to a parole officer. It means, Pollard must remain in the United States for a total of five years. His attorneys said they have already secured him accommodation in New York City. At the same, Pollard’s lead attorney is hopeful that an exception will be made in his case and Pollard may be allowed to stay outside the U.S.

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