Michael Oren: No link between Pollard's reported early release and Iran nuclear deal

After 'Wall Street Journal' report, various Israeli politicians express desire to see Pollard freed from jail before 30-year sentence is up.

July 25, 2015 17:50
2 minute read.
Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A number of Israeli politicians reacted positively on Saturday to reports that the Obama administration was considering early release for Jonathan Pollard, a former US Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel.

Former Israeli ambassador to the US and current Kulanu MK Michael Oren said that would be happy if a Wall Street Journal report published Friday was true that Washington was considering to free Pollard from prison before his 30-year sentence is up.

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US officials denied the Wall Street Journal report following its publication.

"During my role as an Israeli ambassador, who visited Pollard in prison and worked relentlessly for his release, I understand the extent of which his release from continued detainment is an act of compassion that touches the hearts of all Israelis," Oren said in a statement Saturday.

Oren added that if reports were true, Pollard's release would not in any way stand as compensation to Israel for the recent nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

"Certainly there is no connection between Pollard's release, which is a matter of mercy and justice, and the bad deal with Iran, which is a security and existential matter," he said.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said together with the whole nation he would be happy to see Pollard at home with his family in Israel.

Minister of Sport and Culture Miri Regev stated that Pollard deserved to be freed regardless of of the bad deal that was forged earlier this month between Iran and the world powers in Vienna. She said it was appropriate to release him and not as compensation for the deal.

On Friday, the Justice Department said Pollard must serve his full 30-year sentence. It stressed that he has long been eligible for consideration for parole in November but insisted that the administration has no say in how that process unfolds.

One US official rejected the notion that Pollard's release would have anything to do with trying to smooth tense relations with Israel over President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fiercely opposes.

The Journal reported that some US officials are pushing for Pollard's release in a matter of weeks, while others expect it could take months, possibly at his parole consideration date in November.

Successive Israeli governments have appealed for Pollard's release, which would be hugely popular in Israel, but US presidents have always resisted. Pollard, 60, was convicted in 1987 of spying for Israel and sentenced to a life term.

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