Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was released on parole Friday after spending 30 years in a U.S. prison, a move welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Pollard is a former U.S. Navy Investigative Service civilian analyst. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 after pleading guilty to selling classified defense documents to Israel, a huge cache of intelligence summaries about the capabilities of Israel's enemies.
He was freed from a prison in the mid-Atlantic state of North Carolina and later registered with a probation office in New York.
"After three long and difficult decades, Jonathan is at last reunited with his family," Netanyahu said in a statement. The Israeli leader had repeatedly pushed for Pollard's release.
"The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard," Netanyahu added.
FILE - Jonathan Pollard, the Navy intelligence analyst who was arrested in 1985 for selling secrets to Israel, is scheduled to be released from the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, N.C., Nov. 20, 2015.
The 61-year-old Pollard, who was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995 while in prison, is expected to settle in the New York area while he spends at least the next five years on parole. He is barred from traveling outside the United States, including to Israel, without permission. Pollard has said he wants to move to Israel, where his second wife lives.
The Justice Department has so far declined to discuss details of his parole; but, his lawyers said Pollard will be required to wear an electronic bracelet so his movements can be monitored and that his personal computers and work computer at the New York investment firm that has hired him will be subject to monitoring.
'Onerous and oppressive'
Pollard's lawyers called the restrictions "onerous and oppressive" and immediately contested them in a federal court.
Netanyahu has asked the U.S. to allow Pollard to move immediately to Israel, the pro-government Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom reported Thursday.
Two New York congressmen, Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler, have also written U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, saying Pollard should be allowed to renounce his American citizenship and emigrate to Israel.
The White House, however, has said it has no intention of altering the terms of Pollard's parole.