Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, exits following a hearing at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York City, May 17, 2017.
(photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Former US President Barack Obama is to blame for the US Justice Department’s rejection of an official request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to serve out the remainder of his parole time in Israel, sources close to Pollard told The Jerusalem Post.
Netanyahu had been working for months with the US Justice Department to try and ensure Pollard’s transfer to Israel, under the federal guidelines of treaty transfer, which enable convicts to complete their parole in the country of their citizenship. When he first became prime minister in 1996, Netanyahu’s government granted Pollard citizenship.
The Justice Department said the request was denied, due to “the severity of Pollard’s crimes.” However, Pollard’s rabbi, National Council of Young Israel executive vice president emeritus, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, provided a different explanation.
“This bureaucratic solution was acceptable to all, as a means to finally put an end to the Pollard issue and allow the 33-year-old wounds to heal,” Lerner said. “The people [who]...deny that request are Obama era holdovers and the same people who have created the severe restrictions that Pollard, while on parole, must live with.”
Pollard was paroled on November 20, 2015, after having served 30 years of his 45-year sentence of life in prison for passing classified information to an ally. He is on parole for the final 15 years, during which he must remain in his New York apartment from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., wear a tracking device at all times and have any computer he uses monitored by government software.
Lerner said reports that the parole conditions will be eased in two years are “a blatant lie,” because the same rationale used to prevent him from moving to Israel could also be used to deny easing his conditions.
“Once the government falsely claims that Jonathan’s full release may pose a security risk for the US, they will have to maintain that lie in five and 10 years, until his parole is fully over after 45 [years],” Lerner said. “It’s clear that the Justice Department is still staffed by Obama holdovers who are not favorable to Israel, because this decision is clearly against the State of Israel.”
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