American Jonathan Pollard, who was imprisoned in the United States in 1985 after being convicted of spying for the Jewish state, arrived Wednesday in Israel and was received by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Pollard is considered a hero in some Israeli circles. He was a former analyst in the US Navy. He is now 66 years old. He served a 30-year prison sentence for handing over classified documents from the United States.
He was released in November 2015 with an obligation to wear an electronic bracelet and respect the curfew, especially preventing him from leaving the United States for another five years despite Israeli pressure to be able to leave, but the US Department of Justice last month lifted these conditions.
Major Israeli newspapers, including Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post, reported that Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther arrived in Israel on Wednesday. The video investigation by Israeli journalist Hayom included a picture of Pollard and his wife on a plane wearing a muzzle.
On November 21, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “lifting of restrictions on Jonathan Pollard” and expressed his hope that Israel would arrive “soon.”
A statement said that Netanyahu “committed himself to work towards the release of (Pollard) for years,” and worked “tirelessly” to return him to Israel.
Pollard, an American Jew, had contacted an Israeli colonel in New York in the mid-1980s and began handing him secrets to the United States in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.
In total, thousands of American documents were revealed. Pollard’s case remained a stumbling block in relations between Washington and Israel.
Senior officials in the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) did not forgive the spy for handing over a batch of classified defense information in exchange for money at the height of the Cold War, to the Israeli strategic ally of the United States.
According to documents released by the CIA in 2012, Pollard helped Israel in 1985 in the bombing of the PLO headquarters in Tunis – an attack that killed sixty people – and in the assassination of the second man in the Palestine Liberation Organization, Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) in Tunis in 1988.