(photo credit: COURTESY OF JUSTICE FOR JONATHAN POLLARD)
JERUSALEM — An escape plan was put in place for convicted spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard but he circumvented it and sought asylum at Israel’s embassy in Washington, his former handler said.
“I got the call that he is waiting at the entrance of the embassy … and I immediately said ‘throw him out.’ I don’t regret it,” former Mossad handler Rafi Eitan said. “The minute the man decided to come to the embassy …. he decided for himself that he is going to prison.”
Eitan, 88, for the first time gave details of his work with Pollard, a former US Navy analyst who was sentenced to life in prison in the United States in 1987, during an interview on the Israel Channel 2 news magazine “Uvda,” which means Fact.
He said he believed that if Israel had given Pollard asylum it would have even more severely damaged its relations with the United States.
Eitan said during the interview that he was not a rogue agent, as he has frequently been depicted, but that both prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres were aware of his work with Pollard. He said he took responsibility for the Pollard debacle in order to allow the Israel-US relationship to move forward.
It was recently reported that Pollard was turned down in August for his first parole request. Though he has been eligible to apply for parole for the last 19 years he reportedly has refrained from doing so because he is seeking a presidential commutation, which would release him unconditionally.
The parole commission said it would review Pollard’s case again next year.