Group Says Obama Administration Blocked Jonathan Pollard's Parole Request

Washington said freeing U.S. Navy analyst who has served 29 years for spying for Israel would promote disrespect for the law, advocates for his release say.

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Israelis hold placards depicting Jonathan Pollard during a protest calling for his release from a U.S. prison.Credit: Reuters

Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. Navy analyst imprisoned 29 years ago for spying for Israel, has submitted a request for parole, but the Obama administration intervened to prevent his release, according to advocates for Pollard's release.

The Obama administration said at the parole hearing that freeing the convicted spy, even under restrictive conditions, would demonstrate contempt in the face of the severity of his offenses and would promote disrespect for the law, the sources said.

In July, Pollard was deemed eligible for parole, and in October the U.S. Bureau of Prisons reverted to a November 21, 2015, release date on its listing for Pollard, after several days in which "Life" had appeared as his release date. Being eligible for parole does not necessarily mean Pollard will be released, however.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in March 2013 that while he had no immediate plans to release Pollard, an American citizen serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for handing classified U.S. documents to Israel, he would make sure "the basic procedures and rules" of the justice system are followed.

"So I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately," Obama said in last year's interview with Israel's Channel 2 television. " But what I am going to be doing is to make sure that he – like every other American who has been sentenced – is accorded the same kinds of review and same examination of the equities that any other individual would provide."

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