Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard lands in Israel: reports

© SPENCER PLATT Former US Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard served 30 years in prison for giving away classified US documents to Israel

AFP-Jonathan Pollard, an American jailed in the US in 1985 for spying for Israel, landed in the Jewish state on Wednesday after Washington released him from parole conditions last month, Israeli media reported.

Pollard, 66, served 30 years in prison for giving away classified US documents, and had been confined by parole terms to the US since his release in 2015, despite Israeli pressure to allow him to leave.

The US Justice Department removed the terms and conditions last month.

Several leading Israeli dailies, including Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post, reported that Pollard had landed in Israel with his wife Esther earlier on Wednesday.

The Israel Hayom newspaper’s report included a photo of Pollard and Esther on a plane, wearing masks.

In a statement last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the lifting of the US parole restrictions and voiced hope that Pollard would “arrive in Israel soon.”

Israel has imposed its third nationwide lockdown to contain the novel coronavirus and current restrictions compel anyone entering the country to spend at least 10 days in quarantine in a government-selected hotel.

There was no immediate indication as to whether Pollard and his wife had been exempted from those restrictions.

Pollard was a US Navy intelligence analyst in the mid-1980s when he made contact with an Israeli colonel in New York and began sending US secrets to Israel in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.

Pollard, who is Jewish, passed thousands of crucial US documents to Israel, straining relations between the two close allies.

Israel’s October 1985 raid on the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Tunis headquarters that killed around 60 people was planned with information from Pollard, according to CIA documents declassified in 2012.

He was arrested in 1985 and was sentenced to life in prison two years later, despite pleading guilty in a deal his attorneys expected would result in a more lenient sentence.

After his release in 2015, he was kept in the United States by parole rules and not allowed to travel to Israel where his wife, whom he married after he was jailed, lived.

He remained subject to a curfew, had to wear a wrist monitor, and was prohibited from working for any company that lacked US government monitoring software on its computer systems.

Israel, where Pollard is regarded as a hero and which awarded him citizenship in 1995, repeatedly pressured Washington for his release, making it one of the top issues of bilateral relations.

But the US intelligence community was reportedly deeply opposed to giving him anything less than the sentence he received.