Imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard has been granted parole by a federal parole board and has a planned release date in November, his attorneys said on Tuesday, according to media reports. His Nov. 20 scheduled release date comes nearly 30 years after Pollard was arrested and charged with passing U.S. military secrets to Israeli handlers.
Pollard, who had worked as a Navy intelligence officer, pleaded guilty in 1986 and was sentenced to life in prison in 1987. U.S. officials first prepared to release Pollard last week and some in President Barack Obama's administration were hopeful that his release would help ease Israeli tensions with an Iran nuclear deal pending, reported the Wall Street Journal.
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“We look forward to seeing our client on the outside in less than four months,’’ said Mr. Pollard’s lawyers, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, in a joint statement, via the Wall Street Journal. Under the conditions of his parole, the 60-year-old must stay in the United States for five years, but his lawyers plan to ask Obama to intervene for an early release and to allow Pollard to relocate to Israel. Israel granted Pollard citizenship in 1995 and admitted to paying him for intelligence in 1998, reported CNN.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was furious about the Iran deal with the U.S. and five other countries that agreed to ease sanctions on Iran in exchange for the country curbing its nuclear program. The Israeli leader called it a "historic mistake for the world," saying it would provide cash for the country to continue its aggression in the region.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said over the weekend that the release and the Iran deal were unrelated. Pollard will be eligible for mandatory parole on Nov. 20 because the law at the time of his conviction allowed for it, providing he had no other violations.