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Imprisoned Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard To Be Released In November

Jonathan Pollard speaks during an interview at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, N.C., in May 1998.
Karl DeBlaker AP
Jonathan Pollard speaks during an interview at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, N.C., in May 1998.

Jonathan Pollard, who has served almost 30 years in prison after being convicted of espionage, will be granted parole on Nov. 21, according to his attorneys.

The former civilian Navy analyst was arrested in 1985 and charged with trying to sell classified information to Israel. He pleaded guilty and received a life sentence.

"But under laws in place at the time, that meant he could get parole after 30 years," NPR's Carrie Johnson says. "Now, that term is nearly up — and the Justice Department did not stand in the way of his release."


In their statement, attorneys Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman said the decision to release Pollard, who is now 60, was made unanimously by three members of a parole commission, independent of any other U.S. government agency. They also said that the decision is not connected to "recent developments in the Middle East."

As we've previously reported, Pollard's supporters have claimed that his release could have a positive impact on the Middle East peace process, that he was spying for an ally of the U.S. and had no intent to harm the U.S., and that his sentence was too harsh.

Carrie tells our Newscast Unit that Pollard's lawyers say their client is sick and looking forward to reuniting with his wife.

The attorneys say President Obama has the authority to release Pollard before Nov. 21 and could allow him to leave the U.S. and move to Israel immediately. Currently, Pollard must remain in the United States for five years. His attorneys say they've secured employment and housing for Pollard in the New York area.

Pollard also communicated words of thanks through his attorneys for his release, expressing gratitude to the National Council of Young Israel as well as supporters from around the world:

"Mr. Pollard would like to thank the many thousands of well-wishers in the United States, in Israel, and throughout the world, who provided grass roots support by attending rallies, sending letters, making phone calls to elected officials, and saying prayers for his welfare. He is deeply appreciative of every gesture, large or small."

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