WASHINGTON — Jonathan J. Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for passing classified documents to the Israeli government, will be released on parole in November after 30 years in prison, a government panel decided on Tuesday.
Mr. Pollard’s lawyers announced the decision of the United States Parole Commission on Tuesday afternoon, and officials at the Department of Justice confirmed that Mr. Pollard had been granted parole.
Mr. Pollard, 60, had been scheduled for mandatory parole in November, but could have been kept in prison for years longer if the United States government had objected to his release, citing concerns about an ongoing threat to national security.
Last week, officials for the Department of Justice signaled that they would not object to Mr. Pollard’s release if the United States Parole Commission determined that he should leave the prison in North Carolina where he is being held.
“The Department of Justice has always maintained that Jonathan Pollard should serve his full sentence for the serious crimes he committed, which in this case is a 30-year sentence, as mandated by statute, ending Nov. 21, 2015,” Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for the department, said in a statement.
The decision to release Mr. Pollard comes just weeks after President Obama concluded a historic agreement with Iran to limit that country’s nuclear weapons program. The Iran deal has angered the Israeli government, which says it will lead to Iran’s constructing a nuclear weapon.
But White House officials have denied that Mr. Pollard’s imminent release — something that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and others in the country have demanded for years — is an attempt to placate the Israelis in the wake of the Iran deal.
“Mr. Pollard’s status will be determined by the United States Parole Commission according to standard procedures,” Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said last week. “There is absolutely zero linkage between Mr. Pollard’s status and foreign policy considerations.”
The lawyers for Mr. Pollard said that he would be released on Nov. 21.
“Mr. Pollard is looking forward to being reunited with his beloved wife Esther,” the statement from the lawyers said.
They added: “Mr. Pollard would like to thank the many thousands of well-wishers in the United States, in Israel and throughout the world, who provided grass-roots support by attending rallies, sending letters, making phone calls to elected officials and saying prayers for his welfare. He is deeply appreciative of every gesture, large or small.”
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
(via NY Times)