Jonathan Jay Pollard, the former navy intelligence analyst who was convicted of espionage in 1987, will be paroled in November. As a condition of his release, Pollard must remain in the United States for a five-year period after being freed.
Pollard’s attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, swiftly denied allegations which linked Pollard’s release to the Iranian nuclear pact recently signed between Iran and the P5+1 Powers.
“The decision is not connected to recent developments in the Middle East,” read a joint statement relased by Pollard’s attorneys.
The White House also sought to put down any speculation that Pollard’s release was related to ongoing tensions with Israel.
“Mr. Pollard’s status was determined by the United States Parole Commission according to standard procedures, and the Parole Commission’s decision was in no way linked to foreign policy considerations,” said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council.
A source of discord between the United States and Israel, the Israeli government frequently appealed to the United States for Pollard’s release.
Notwithstanding skepticism related to the Iran deal, Pollard has been considered a hostage to foreign policy: In 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry offered Tel Aviv Pollard’s release once Israel freed a mass of Palestinian prisoners.
While speculation over any link between the Iran nuclear deal and Pollard’s release will persist, some foreign policy experts offer alternative views.
“They will try to derive some benefit from letting people think ‘Look, we’re being nice to Israel. Ok, you’re mad about the Iran nuclear deal; we’re sorry, we have to do this anyway. But now here’s Jonathan Pollard’,” stated Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy.
For others, particularly many Israelis, Pollard’s release is of little comfort.
“(This release is) something totally normal. There is little the US can do to sweeten the bitter Iran deal, Bismuth argues, adding the tensions between the US and Israel will continue until Congress makes a decision on whether to support the agreement,” said Boaz Bismuth, editor of Israel Today.
To some, this is a justice long overdue. To others, Pollard’s betrayal was unforgivable and the damage he inflicted on intelligence capabilities was unfathomable.
Regardless, Pollard will be freed in November shortly after congressional deliberation of the Iran nuclear deal. Pollard’s release may be of little compensation to Israel if Iran violates the Joint Plan of Action.[Reuters]