Report: Obama Administration Preparing to Release Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard

The Justice Department denied the Wall Street Journal report, saying it continues to maintain that the Israeli spy should serve his full sentence.

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Barak Ravid
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Photo Jonathan Pollard.
Jonathan Pollard during an interview at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, North Carolina, May 15, 1998.Credit: AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The Obama administration is preparing to release jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, senior American officials told the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Several senior administration officials are pushing for the release the coming weeks, hoping such a move would improve Israel-U.S. relations, which have strained in light of the Iran nuclear deal the report said.

On the other hand, the newspaper quotes other senior American officials who said Pollard is expected to be released in a few months when when his parole comes up for review in November. These officials denied that Pollard's possible release was in any way connected to the nuclear deal with Iran.

The Justice Department denied the report Friday, saying it continues to maintain that the Israeli spy should serve his full sentence.

The White House also denied the report Friday, saying there is 'zero linkage' between Pollard's imprisonment status and foreign policy considerations.

Last week, informed sources expressed optimism that Pollard could be released from prison on November 21 this year after spending 30 years in jail.

The sources said “there are indications” that the U.S. Department of Justice will not object to the release, which needs to be confirmed by Pollard’s parole board. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice refused on Friday to comment on the reports.

The sources, also cited in part by the New York website Algemeiner on last Friday, said that no connection should be made between Pollard’s potential release and administration efforts to mollify American Jewish public opinion following the signing of the Iran nuclear deal.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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