The US Justice Department on Friday declined to extend the parole of Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying on America for Israel, and the 66-year-old is now free to travel to the Jewish state.
Pollard’s attorneys Jacques Semmelman and Eliot Lauer issued a statement saying the US Parole Commission had notified their client of the termination, stating that he “is free to travel anywhere, including Israel, for temporary or permanent residence, as he wishes.”
Pollard responded to the news by telling reporters he was glad to be able to move to Israel where he will be able to care for his wife who is sick with cancer. He also expressed “appreciation and gratitude” to Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer for his help in bringing about the end to his parole.
Pollard, who served 30 years in prison for providing sensitive intelligence to Israel, made a public appeal to Netanyahu last year and asked him to intervene on his behalf to urge Trump to commute his parole, so he could care for his sick wife.
He told Channel 12 news at the time that his wife Esther had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer for the third time.
איך נראים החיים של ג׳ונתן פולארד, ולמה יזם את הראיון הנרחב בביתו: הערב במהדורה pic.twitter.com/iLOYSL4Lgl
— יונה לייבזון yuna leibzon (@YunaLeibzon) August 5, 2019
Pollard, a former civilian US Navy analyst, was given a life sentence in 1987 for passing secrets to Israel. His imprisonment was a longtime point of tension in Israeli-US relations, with Israeli and Jewish leaders petitioning their US counterparts for years in order to secure his release.
After his release in November 2015, Pollard was given a five-year probation period, during which he was not allowed to travel outside the United States. The parole terms also required him to stay in his New York home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., to submit any computer he uses for inspection, and to wear a GPS monitoring device at all times.
The 66-year-old was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995 and says he wants to settle in the Jewish state with his family.
In 2017, a US federal appeals court rejected Pollard’s request to lift his parole conditions.
In November 2018, Channel 12 reported the US Justice Department had refused a formal request by Israel to allow Pollard to emigrate. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also said to have asked Trump to let Pollard move to Israel.