A former spy, who was once sentenced to life on parole under the Espionage Act, has completed his parole and may return to Israel, his lawyers said on Saturday., a former naval analyst convicted of selling thousands of documents to Israel, was the only American to ever receive a life sentence for spying for an ally.
Pollard was released from prison in 2015 after serving more than 30 years.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s media adviser said on Saturday that Netanyahu “welcomed Pollard’s release” and that Netanyahu “hopes to see Jonathan Pollard in Israel and with all Israelis soon.”
In a statement, the prime minister thanked the retiring US ambassador to Israel, Ron Dermer, for working with the Trump administration.
The U.S. Parole Board said Friday that after five years of parole, Pollard’s parole supervision has been terminated and he is no longer subject to parole.
“For the past five years since his parole, Mr. Pollard has been subject to these restrictions by the US government,” a statement from Pollard’s lawyers said. “We are grateful and pleased that our client has finally been released from all restrictions and is now a free man in all respects. We look forward to seeing our client in Israel.
In the midst of the Cold War, Pollard spent more than a year using his position as a U.S. naval spy to pass on thousands of top-secret documents to his Israeli spy masters, who paid him handsomely. In 1987, Pollard was sentenced to life in prison; his then-wife Anne was sentenced to five years as an accessory after the fact.
In 1988, Pollard gave his first interview while in prison in front of 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace, which caused considerable controversy.
“I can give you a few slight reasons why I was motivated to do what I did,” he told Wallace. “Soft reasons related to a family that was destroyed in the Holocaust, related to the realization that this government in the 1940s abandoned the Jewish people until their fate in Europe.”
There was also a “good reason,” he said: He believed that Caspar Weinberger, then Minister of Defense, was neglecting his duty to Israel.
Pollard said Weinberger was withholding information that Israel was entitled to receive under a secret intelligence-sharing agreement between the United States and Israel. He told Wallace he did not deserve a life sentence. “My sentence does not reflect proportional justice,” he said. “It reflected political revenge, clear and simple.”
Pollard was arrested in 1985 after a failed asylum attempt at the Israeli embassy in Washington. Israel granted Pollard citizenship in 1995, according to the NPR, although former President Bill Clinton rejected a request for clemency.