Jonathan Pollard Offers to Renounce U.S. Citizenship if Allowed to Emigrate to Israel

New York representatives urge U.S. attorney general to consider convicted spy's request.

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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 is ready to renounce his American citizenship if the U.S. Justice Department allows him to leave for Israel upon his release from prison, two New York state representatives said Monday.

In a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., wrote: “On November 20, 2015, after serving 30 years in prison, it is Mr. Pollard’s wish to move to Israel with his family so he can resume his life there. We write today to ask that DOJ give Mr. Pollard’s request the fair consideration it deserves.”

Should his request be granted, Pollard would risk never being permitted to return to the United States.

Pollard, a former Navy analyst who sold secrets to Israel, is being released on parole from a life sentence for espionage. The Justice Department has not yet revealed the terms of his release; Pollard’s lawyers have suggested terms will be negotiated up to the eve of his release.

However, it is believed that he will be required to stay in the United States for at least a year, and his lawyers have already secured a residence and work for him in the New York area.

Engel and Nadler cite as a precedent the case of René González, a member of the “Cuban 5” spy ring.

After serving a prison sentence and while on probation, Gonzalez asked for and received permission in 2013 to go to Cuba to attend his father’s funeral. While there, he asked to stay on condition he renounce his U.S. citizenship and never return. The Justice Department granted permission.

The three members of the Cuban 5 who were still in prison were released almost a year ago at the same time Cuba released Alan Gross, an American who had been imprisoned for activities including connecting the island’s small Jewish community with the Internet.

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