Jonathan Pollard granted parole release scheduled for November

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. Photo source: JTA.

Jonathan Pollard, who has been imprisoned for 30 years for spying for Israel, has been granted parole following a unanimous vote by a federal parole panel.

The release date is scheduled for Nov. 21, Pollard’s pro bono attorneys announced in a news release. Had he not been granted parole, he would have been required to serve an additional 15 years in prison, according to the news release.

Pollard’s attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, said the parole decision was made “independently of any other U.S. government agency” and “is not connected to recent developments in the Middle East” — presumably a reference to the Iran nuclear deal.

The notice of action granting Pollard parole requires him to stay in the United States for five years. Lauer and Semmelman are asking President Barack Obama to use his clemency power to remove that requirement.

Israel’s Channel 2 reported on July 28 that Pollard will be released one day early, on Nov. 20, because the 21st is a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Pollard, who was given a life sentence in 1987, has been serving his term in a federal prison in North Carolina. He was arrested in 1985 while working as a civilian Navy analyst.

The U.S. government does not oppose the release, Pollard’s attorneys said. His only application for parole, filed last year, failed.

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Washington as he left a congressional hearing on the Iran nuclear deal that the granting of parole is not related to the Iran agreement.

“I am looking forward to being reunited with my beloved wife Esther,” Pollard said in a statement issued by his attorneys. “I would like to thank the many thousands of well-wishers in the United States, in Israel and throughout the world, who provided grassroots support by attending rallies, sending letters, making phone calls to elected officials and saying prayers for my welfare. I am deeply appreciative of every gesture, large or small.”

Pollard singled out for special thanks the National Council of Young Israel and its leaders, as well as David Nyer, Kenneth Lasson, George Leighton, Larry Dub, Nitsana Dirshan-Leitner, Effi Lahav, Asher Mivtari and Adi Ginsburg.

“It’s a miracle,” Pollard’s former wife, Anne Pollard, told Channel 2 on July 28, shortly after news broke of his parole. She said she knew nothing about the terms of his release.

CNN on the Pollard parole:


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