A Navy intelligence analyst who has spent 30 years in prison for selling secrets to the Israelis is set to be released next Friday.
Jonathan Pollard was serving a life sentence in a North Carolina federal prison and received parole based on rules that existed at the time of his sentencing back in 1987, The Associated Press reports. He unsuccessfully tried to gain asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington, but was arrested Nov. 21, 1985.
Israel only admitted Pollard was a spy of theirs in 1998 and subsequently granted him citizenship. Over time, numerous administrations have considered releasing Pollard. But those considerations also ended in denial.
The U.S. government determined that Pollard had “eagerly seized an opportunity to volunteer his services to Israeli intelligence.” The leak was devastating. Pollard sent over volumes of sensitive information and in turn collected a monthly salary from Israel. That information included radar-jamming techniques and included classified assessments about the electronic capabilities of several of Israel’s enemies. Classified manuals, technical details on U.S. spy satellites, maps and other sensitive photographs were all shipped to Israel.
Not only did Israel receive that intelligence, but U.S. authorities also suspect that Israel then passed it on to the Soviet Union. Israel apparently traded the intel as part of an exchange for Soviet Jews.
U.S. intelligence assets were reportedly killed as a result of the exchange.
Upon release, Pollard intends to move to the New York area, where he has a job and housing waiting for him. After that, he wants President Barack Obama to give him clemency, so that he can move to Israel as soon as possible.
The White House, however, doesn’t plan on giving clemency because of Pollard’s “very serious crimes.”
Back in July, the United States Parole Commission, which voted unanimously in favor of release, said Pollard would soon be out of jail. The commission could have voted to extend his punishment, but declined to do so. (RELATED: Israel Spy Sentenced To Life In Prison For Espionage Will Be Released)
The date of release, Nov. 20, is now drawing near.
Both U.S. and Israeli governments have repeatedly denied that Pollard’s release counts as a kind of compensation for the Iranian nuclear deal. Israel, seeing Iran as an existential threat, has strongly opposed the deal.