U.S. Attorney General: We Will Not Interfere in Pollard Case to Prevent His Release

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U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch speaks as U.S. President Barack Obama looks on, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, Nov. 8, 2014.Credit: Reuters

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Saturday that Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard has served enough time to be released, in accordance with the law under which he was sentenced to life in prison in 1987.

Speaking at a security conference in Aspen, Lynch said that the Justice Department "will not interfere in the case" – in other words, will not try to prevent Pollard's release.

Lynch denied any link between Pollard's possible release in the near future and the nuclear agreement signed with Iran. "It would have been extremely far-thinking of people 30 years ago to sentence Mr. Pollard and set this mandatory release date to coincide with the Iran deal," she said cynically. "And if they were able to pull that off I would be quite impressed."

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal cited senior American officials who said the Obama administration is preparing to release Pollard. Last week, Haaretz reported that informed sources have expressed optimism that Pollard could be released from prison on November 21.  The sources said “there are indications” that the U.S. Department of Justice will not object to the release.

Pollard was arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life in prison for espionage in 1987; he had passed on thousands of top-secret documents to the Bureau of Scientific Relations at the embassy in Washington.

Demonstrating for Pollard's release outside the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, in 2011.Credit: AP

According to U.S. law under which Pollard's trial was held, a prisoner sentenced to life in prison is released after 30 years. Until the full 30-year-sentence is served, a prisoner may request parole, and must prove he is eligible. Pollard made such a request a year ago and was rejected by the parole board. However, as of November 21, when Pollard completes 30 years in prison, the burden of proof for why he should remain in jail lies with the state, which must convince the parole board.

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