Jonathan Pollard will be let out of jail after serving 30 years for spying on behalf of Israel, but he will still not be completely free – at least not while President Obama is in the White House.
US law specifies that for five years after their release, parolees have to get government permission for any travel abroad. Pollard’s lawyers say they intend to ask Obama to authorize him to leave the United States and move to Israel immediately.
However, the White House made clear Tuesday that this would not happen, noting Pollard had committed “very serious crimes” and would serve his sentence under the law, according to AP.
“The president has no intention of altering the terms of Mr. Pollard’s parole,” Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said Tuesday.
A senior Israeli diplomatic source revealed on Monday that if Jonathan Pollard is released in November as has been reported, he won’t be allowed to come to Israel for fear he will receive a hero’s welcome.
“The Americans are very worried of a situation in which Pollard will be received as a hero in Israel, and therefore they likely will prevent Pollard from leaving American territory,” the source told Yedioth Aharonoth.
Pollard has been jailed for half of his life after using his role as a US naval intelligence officer to pass intelligence to Israel about regional security threats to the Jewish state. He was handed a life-sentence, unlike spies from other allied or even enemy nations that got off with a tiny fraction of his sentence.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Tuesday evening with Esther Pollard, wife of Jonathan Pollard, following the announcement of Pollard’s parole.
“After decades of effort, Jonathan Pollard will finally be released. Throughout his time in prison, I consistently raised the issue of his release in my meetings and conversations with the leadership of successive U.S. administrations. We are looking forward to his release,” Netanyahu said.