US rejects Netanyahu’s request to free Jonathan Pollard to Israel

Despite Jonathan Pollard’s 30 years in prison and three years of parole, the U.S. is still not granting him his full freedom.    

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

The U.S. Justice Department has refused Israel’s request to allow former spy Jonathan Pollard to make Aliyah (immigrate to the Jewish state), Israel’s Hadashot news reported Thursday.

After serving 30 years in a US prison for his espionage activity for Israel, an ally, Pollard, a former US Navy analyst, was finally released in 2015.

Under the terms of his parole, Pollard must remain in the U.S. for the next five years unless he receives permission from the president to leave. Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995.

While Pollard is no longer incarcerated, he continues to face many limitations. He remains under modified house arrest and could be jailed for any technical infraction. His internet use is limited and monitored, and the worst restriction is likely the ban on his flying to Israel. He has repeatedly expressed a desire to move to Israel.

A year ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested Pollard’s release from President Donald Trump.

However, the U.S. Justice Department rejected the request, citing the severity of Pollard’s espionage offenses, the report said, despite Israel’s offer to enforce the same parole terms. A request to consider his ailments and age – 63 – were likewise rejected.

In his defense, Pollard said that he committed espionage because “the American intelligence establishment collectively endangered Israel’s security by withholding crucial information.”

Pollard is the only U.S. citizen who has received a life sentence for passing classified information to an American ally. Several American-Israeli groups, as well as US and Israeli politicians, have lobbied in his defense, saying the punishment exceeds the crime.

The Prime Minister’s Office told Hadashot News that “Netanyahu remains committed to bringing Pollard back to Israel.”