(JNS.org) The United States is planning to release jailed Jewish spy Jonathan Pollard, who has been incarcerated for three decades over a conviction for giving Israel classified information on America, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The report cited “U.S. officials, some of whom hope the move will smooth relations with Israel in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal.”
Pollard is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally. Advocates for his release have argued that he should be freed because his time in prison has been disproportionately long based on the crime he committed. Additionally, in recent years, the 60-year-old Pollard’s failing health has been widely cited as an argument for his release on humanitarian grounds.
“Jonathan Pollard spied on his country and deserved time in jail. But his sentence and the amount of time he served was dramatically disproportionate when compared to others who committed similar crimes. If the reports are true, it is good that he’s finally being released,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, some U.S. officials are pushing for Pollard’s release within the next few weeks, while other officials say he will wait until he is up for parole on Nov. 21, which would mark exactly 30 years since his arrest.
Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the National Security Council, later said, “Mr. Pollard’s status will be determined by the United States Parole Commission according to standard procedures. There is absolutely zero linkage between Mr. Pollard’s status and foreign policy considerations.”
On July 17, The Algemeiner was first to report that the U.S. Justice Department was “seriously considering” freeing Pollard from federal prison in Butner, N.C., citing a source who said the release would come in consideration of his failing health and not for the purpose of calming U.S.-Israel tension over the Iran deal.
Officials with first-hand knowledge of Pollard's case who have called for his release include, but are not limited to, James Woolsey, former director of the CIA; Dennis DeConcini, former chair of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee; David F. Durenburger, also a former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Robert C. MacFarlane, former U.S. National Security Advisor; Lawrence J. Korb, former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense; Prof. Angelo Codevilla, a former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer; Lee Hamilton, former chair of the House Select Committee on Intelligence; and attorney Bernard W. Nussbaum, former White House counsel.