Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard will be released on November 21 after being granted parole, his lawyers said Tuesday in a statement.
Pollard, who will complete a 30-year sentence despite efforts by successive Israeli governments to secure his earlier release, will be required to remain in the US for five years under the terms of his parole, his attorneys said.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the decision by the federal parole board was unanimous and that the US government didn’t oppose his release.
Pollard, 60, was serving a life term in a North Carolina prison after pleading guilty to spying for Israel from June 1984 until his arrest in November 1985.
The former Navy intelligence officer — using his Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information access to national defense information — provided Israel with thousands of pages of US intelligence on military and technical intelligence on the Soviet Union, Arab states, and Pakistan.
The lobby for Pollard’s release has become a mainstream cause in Israel, with the general argument being that he has already served nearly three decades for actions that benefited a key US ally but did not harm the national security of the US.
Prosecutors in the case said “Pollard compromised a breadth and volume of classified information as great as in any reported espionage case” in US history.
In 2006 Pollard’s handler, superspy Rafi Eitan, told the newspaper Yediot Aharonot that Pollard provided “information of such high quality and accuracy, so good and so important to the country’s security” that “my desire, my appetite to get more and more material overcame me.”
Pollard issued a public apology in 1997. His lawyer says his health is failing as he suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney stones.
The statement by Pollard’s lawyers noted that the decision “wasn’t in any way related to US negotiations with Iran.” Reports over the weekend implied that US officials were pushing to release Pollard to help smooth things over with Israel after Iran and world powers reached a historic nuclear deal.