Jonathan Pollard Hospitalized After Losing Consciousness

Wife of former U.S. Navy analyst jailed in 1985 for spying for Israel notified of his hospitalization. Netanyahu: We'll continue to fight for his release.

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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

Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. Navy analyst imprisoned 29 years ago for spying for Israel, has been hospitalized after losing consciousness, his wife told activists working for his release on Friday.

A statement issued by the activists said that Pollard's wife Esther had been notified by the authorities that he had been taken to a hospital outside the prison in which he is being held.

Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked with Pollard's wife Esther on Friday afternoon over the phone, and asked her to wish her husband good health in the name of all Israeli citizens.

"Jonathan is sick, his health in in danger, and after 30 years in prison it's time he is released. We'll continue to fight until his release," the prime minister said in a statement. 

Housing Minister Uri Ariel called on the public to "pray for the health of our brother Jonathan," and added: "I demand the U.S. administration to stop the cruel abuse of Pollard and release him immediately, as former U.S. officials recommend as well." 

American Jewish leaders have also urged the president to free Pollard due to his failing health.

“We urge President Obama, especially in this holiday season and given Mr. Pollard’s worsening health, to take steps immediately to expedite gain Mr. Pollard’s release and to commute his life sentence to the more than 29 years he has already served,” the Conference of Presidents, the umbrella organization of U.S. Jewish groups, said in a statement.

About two months ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked United States President Barack Obama to release Pollard. "I raised the issue of Pollard during my conversation with the president and I passed on a simple message," Netanyahu said during a briefing for journalists in New York.

"I told the president that we are on the eve of Yom Kippur, a time during which we ask for forgiveness and we give forgiveness. I told the president that I hoped that might be a basis for advancing the release of Pollard."

Pollard, an American Jew, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for providing classified information to Israel while working for the U.S. navy as a civilian intelligence analyst.

The possibility of swapping Pollard for Palestinian prisoners was raised early in 2014 during the final crisis of the abortive peace negotiations sponsored by U.S. Secretary State John Kerry. The initiative came to nothing.

Pollard's expected release date is November 21, 2015, exactly 30 years after his incarceration. During his imprisonment, Pollard has suffered from medical problems and was hospitalized several times. Israel has made numerous approaches for his release during his 29 years of incarceration, but the U.S. has consistently refused to release him. 

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