BUTNER, N.C., Nov. 20 (UPI) — Jonathan Pollard, former U.S. analyst convicted of sharing classified intelligence with Israel, was released from prison after 30 years Friday.
Now 61 years old, Pollard was freed from incarceration in North Carolina and greeted by his wife, Ester. As part of his parole agreement, the former government employee cannot move to Israel for five years, give interviews or go on the Internet.
Pollard is reportedly willing to give up his U.S. citizenship in order to reside in Israel.
Pollard was arrested by the FBI in 1985 after failing to secure asylum within the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The same year, he pleaded guilty to passing secret documents covering warfare capabilities of such Arab countries as Syria and Libya to the Israeli government and was sentenced to life in prison.
The decision to release Pollard is considered by some a step forward from the decades-long tension between the United States and Israel. The U.S. ally has long argued Pollard’s life sentence was too harsh, though it did not admit Pollard had worked directly to its government until 1998. Frequent requests for an early release were repeatedly denied until the U.S. Parole Commission ordered Pollard’s release in July.
U.S. presidents including President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama have refused to grant Pollard clemency up to this point. However, the Justice Department reportedly did not reject this petition for release.
“After 30 long and hard years, Jonathan Pollard is finally reuniting with his family,” a spokesperson added.