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US terminates Jonathan Pollard’s parole, ex-spy free to travel to Israel

By JACOB MAGID
November 20, 2020

Five years after being freed from prison, Pollard says he plans to move to Jewish state to care for ailing wife, thanks Israeli envoy Ron Dermer for assistance in effort.

The US Justice Department on Friday declined to extend the parole of Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying on America for Israel, and the 66-year-old is now free to travel to the Jewish state.

“After a review of Mr. Pollard’s case, the US Parole Commission has found that there is no evidence to conclude that he is likely to violate the law,” the Justice Department said.

The decision brings to an end a saga that once threatened Israel’s close military cooperation with its main ally and created one of the most serious rifts between Jerusalem and Washington in recent decades.

Given the high profile nature of Pollard’s case, it is likely that the Justice Department’s decision required an okay from government higher-ups. In setting the ex-spy free, the Trump administration bestowed yet another gift to Israel, which has lobbied for years for Pollard to be allowed to move to the Jewish state. Previous efforts have met fierce resistance from the US justice and intelligence communities.

Pollard, 66, was a US Navy intelligence analyst in the mid-1980s when he made contact with an Israeli colonel in New York and began sending US secrets to Israel in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.

Pollard, who is Jewish, passed thousands of crucial US documents to Israel, straining relations between the two close allies.

Israel’s October 1985 raid on the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Tunis headquarters that killed around 60 people was planned with information from Pollard, according to CIA documents declassified in 2012.

He was arrested in 1985 and was sentenced to life in prison two years later, despite pleading guilty in a deal his attorneys expected would result in a more lenient sentence.

After his release in 2015, he was kept in the United States by parole rules and not allowed to travel to Israel where his wife, whom he married after he was jailed, lived.

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