Israeli spy released after 30 years in jail, but Jonathan Pollard saga not over

Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard has been released on parole after 30 years in prison. His lawyers are challenging the terms of his release in court.

Mike Segar/Reuters
Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who was released from a US federal prison in North Carolina overnight, leaves US District court with his wife Elaine Zeitz (r.) in the Manhattan borough of New York, Friday. Mr. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in 1987 of passing classified information to Israel while he was working as a US Navy analyst.

Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was released from prison Friday, nearly 30 years to the day after his initial arrest. Mr. Pollard’s lawyers are now challenging the terms of his parole in court.

Under the terms of Pollard’s early parole from a life sentence, he would be required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet to track his movements, his personal and work computer would be subject to random federal checks, and he must stay in the United States for five years. Pollard's attorneys say he has secured a job and place to stay in the New York area but are petitioning to have some of the conditions of his parole lifted.

"There is no basis whatsoever to treat Mr. Pollard in that manner, and doing so is vindictive and cruel, as well as unlawful," Pollard’s lawyers Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman told Reuters.

Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 after pleading guilty the year before to working for the Israeli government and delivering large amounts of classified information to them. He was a US Navy intelligence analyst at the time.

US officials have said that Pollard committed the security breach over a series of months and for a salary provided by the Israeli government.

Pollard says that his guilty plea was admitted to dual allegiances during an 1998 interview with the Associated Press.

"I tried to serve two countries at the same time. That does not work,” he said at the time. 

The imprisonment of Pollard has been a sore point for American-Israeli relations for decades.

The Israeli government originally claimed that Pollard was part of a rogue operation, denying knowledge of his activities. In the 1990s Israel acknowledged him as an agent and offered him citizenship.

Pollard’s lawyers plan to challenge the terms of his parole and removed the mandatory five years Pollard currently has to stay in the US for. His second wife and family live in Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among others, has rallied for Pollard for years.

"The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard," Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement. "As someone who raised Jonathan's case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come."

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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