Netanyahu Tells Former Spy Pollard He Can 'Return Home to Israel' After U.S. Parole Expires

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Jonathan Pollard gets into a car as he leaves the federal courthouse in New York, Nov. 20, 2015.
Jonathan Pollard gets into a car as he leaves the federal courthouse in New York, Nov. 20, 2015. Credit: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told former spy Jonathan Pollard on Tuesday that Israel is “waiting for you with open arms,” after his parole restrictions expired on Friday.

“Your nightmare is over, and you can now return home, to Israel,” Netanyahu told Pollard in a phone call, according to a statement released by his office. “You should really feel at home, you should now have a comfortable life… and we can take care of Esther with the best medical treatment in the world.”

Pollard, a Jewish American who served 30 years in prison and five years' parole for spying for Israel, is free to leave the United States after the U.S. Parole Commission decided to lift all of his parole restrictions. He has expressed his wish to immigrate to Israel, but said he was waiting to ensure the move wouldn’t interrupt his wife’s treatment for cancer.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said he expected Pollard and his wife to arrive in the country soon. The prime minister thanked the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, for his contacts with the U.S. administration on the case and for the more than 150 conversations that Netanyahu said Dermer had in recent years with Pollard himself.

Pollard, who is Jewish, was born in Texas and moved to Indiana as a child. He was convicted in 1987 of spying for Israel while serving as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Navy’s counterterrorism center. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

In November 2015, he was released from the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina, where he served his sentence, and moved to New York City. His parole conditions included being confined to certain areas of the city, wearing an electronic ankle bracelet at all times, an evening and nighttime curfew and constant surveillance of his computers. He was also barred from speaking to the press.

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