An American jailed in 1985 for spying for Israel was released from strict parole conditions Friday, allowing his move to Israel, the US Justice Department said.
Jonathan Pollard served 30 years for giving away classified US documents and had been confined by parole terms to the United States since his release in 2015, despite Israeli pressure to allow him to leave.
“After a review of Mr. Pollard’s case, the US Parole Commission has found that there is no evidence to conclude that he is likely to violate the law,” the Justice Department said.
Pollard, 66, was a US Navy intelligence analyst in the mid-1980s when he made contact with and Israeli colonel in New York and began sending US secrets to Israel in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.
He had 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 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.
In addition he was restricted from traveling abroad.
The restrictions, his lawyers said, had been “insurmountable impediments on Mr. Pollard’s ability to earn a living.”
Israel though has repeatedly pressured Washington for the release of Pollard, who is Jewish, making it one of the top issues of bilateral relations.
“We are grateful and delighted that our client is finally free of any restrictions, and is now a free man in all respects. We look forward to seeing our client in Israel,” his lawyers, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, said in a statement.
“Mr. Pollard is happy to finally be able to assist his beloved wife Esther, who is fighting an aggressive form of cancer,” they added.
“Mr. Pollard would like people to know that it was his wife, more than anyone else, who kept him alive during all the years he was in prison.”
In the statement Pollard also thanked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ambassador Ron Dermer, for their efforts on his behalf.