JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that he expects a former U.S. serviceman convicted for spying for Israel, Jonathan Pollard, to come stay in Israel, as the former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who served 30 years in prison has completed his parole.
In a statement issued Saturday evening, Netanyahu said he had worked for Pollard's release for many years. He did not provide a firm date when Pollard might arrive.
The Justice Department announced Friday that Pollard had completed his parole, freeing him to move to Israel. Advocates have said that has long been Pollard's wish.
Pollard, who was arrested in 1985 after trying unsuccessfully to gain asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, was released from prison on parole five years ago. His lawyers said at the time that he would be required to remain in the United States for five years, though they called on then-President Barack Obama to grant him clemency and permit him to move to Israel immediately.
But the White House quickly shot down that prospect, saying Pollard had committed “very serious crimes” and the president had “no intention of altering the terms of Mr. Pollard’s parole.”
Friday's decision marked the latest in a string of gestures by the outgoing Trump Administration to Netanyahu's hard-line government.
In his statement, Netanyahu thanked his ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, for conducting negotiations with the American government.
In a statement Friday, the U.S. Parole Commission said it had ended Pollard’s parole conditions after five years after finding “no evidence to conclude that he is likely to violate the law.”
Lauer said Pollard’s legal team informed the Justice Department of Pollard’s “exemplary record” as a prisoner and while on parole.
“It’s something we’ve been hoping for many, many years,” Pollard’s former lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, said in an interview. “It’s overdue and I’m happy for Jonathan that he’s able now to go to Israel, which is what his wish has been.”