Pollard was released on parole Friday after spending 30 years behind bars on espionage charges
The White House's refusal to alter the terms of Pollard's parole comes despite repeated entreaties from the Israeli government
The Obama administration indicated Friday that it has no plans to loosen the parole restrictions on Jonathan Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel, to allow him to move to the Jewish state.
Pollard was released on parole Friday after spending 30 years behind bars on espionage charges, but he cannot leave the country to join his wife in Israel under the terms of his early release.
“The President has no plans to alter the forms of his parole. The Department of Justice is best positioned to speak to the terms of his parole, although obviously the one at issue is the requirement that he remain in the United States,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser. “But again, the President doesn’t have any plans to alter the terms of terms of his parole.”
State Department Spokesman John Kirby added that he was “not aware of any such conversations” that would ease Pollard’s parole, noting that the Justice Department would handle Pollard’s parole “according to standard procedures.”
The White House’s refusal to alter the terms of Pollard’s parole comes despite repeated entreaties from the Israeli government, which first advocated for Pollard’s release and now in recent months – as it became clear Pollard would soon be freed from prison – advocated for him to be allowed move to Israel.
Rhodes acknowledged Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “regularly raised” the conditions of Pollard’s parole in conversations with Obama, whom he last sat down with at the White House earlier this month.
Pollard’s imprisonment has been a constant subject of Israeli diplomatic efforts throughout the American-born spy’s imprisonment, with Israeli prime ministers raising the issue with successive American administrations.
Pollard had reportedly been used as a bargaining chip in past U.S. efforts to bring Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians or to draw concessions from Israeli officials, but his early release never came to fruition. Many in the American intelligence establishment opposed any leniency for the former U.S. naval intelligence officer who passed sensitive information to Jerusalem.
Pollard was ultimately released through the regular parole process.