U.S. Spied on Israel? Free Pollard, Demand Israeli Parliamentarians

U.S. preaching about the dangers of spying on friends was nothing but 'lip service,' Knesset speaker says.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israeli parliamentarians renewed calls for the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard on Sunday, following reports of American spying activity in Israel on Friday.

According to a report Friday in The Guardian, documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden showed former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak were targets of British and American intelligence surveillance during their time in office.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein criticized Sunday what he called American "hypocrisy” for continuing to detain Pollard over spying for a friendly state, all while conducting its own spy operations against the Israeli government in recent years.

“For 28 years, the American government has been preaching to Israel about the dangers of spying against a friendly state, and [the] mistrust [it generates], and today, we find out that it was nothing but lip service,” said Edelstein. “I don’t know what to call it other than hypocrisy."

"Pollard must be released from prison regardless of these new revelations," Edelstein continued, "[His imprisonment] is an ongoing injustice against a man who fell victim to self-righteousness and false pretenses. We Israelis mustn’t feel embarrassed or the need to apologize over this claim."

"If the reports are true, Pollard's cell should be opened this very day," MK Tzachi Hanegbi told the Army Radio station on Sunday, adding that even without the alleged U.S. spying, Pollard should have been released a long time ago.

Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog also called for Pollard's release, adding that his punishment "has long passed the limits of sensibility."

MK Ayelet Shaked, chairman of the Habayit Hayehui Knesset faction, also called on the American government to release Pollard. “The U.S. demand that Israel refrain from espionage must be mutual, and clearly the Americans must not practice a double standard, by which one side is put ‘at fault’ and is disproportionately punished, while similar acts by the other side are considered legitimate,” said Shaked on Sunday.

“These recent revelations of American espionage against its ally Israel must set off a moral alarm in any fair-minded person. Any relationship between two friendly states must have reciprocity,” continued Shaked, adding “We cannot remain silent following the revelation of American spying against Israel while Jonathan Pollard rots for decades in an American prison for espionage, which is considered an unforgivable act by the president of the United States.”

Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who spied for Israel, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987, despite a plea bargain in which he admitted his guilt. Several Israeli leaders and an increasing number of U.S. political figures from both parties have made requests that the United States pardon him.

A banner depicting U.S. President Barack Obama, and Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish-American who was jailed for life in 1987 on charges of spying on the United States, in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 17, 2013.Credit: AP

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