News / Middle East

    US Release of Israeli Spy Pollard Could Be Key to Renewed Peace Talks

    FILE - People shout slogans as in front of a placard depicting former U.S Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (C), during a protest calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard from a U.S. prison, outside U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's hotel in Jerusalem, January 2, 2014.
    FILE - People shout slogans as in front of a placard depicting former U.S Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (C), during a protest calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard from a U.S. prison, outside U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's hotel in Jerusalem, January 2, 2014.
    VOA News
    Jewish American Jonathan Pollard has been held in prison for nearly three decades for passing American secrets to Israel. But his possible release may be the key to keeping the fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace talks from collapsing.

    Israeli officials have long pleaded with U.S. officials to free Pollard, now 59, but American leaders, including President Barack Obama, have just as steadfastly refused. Mr. Obama told Israeli television a year ago he has "no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard," but said he would make sure Pollard's case would undergo normal reviews.

    Pollard, reported to be in poor health at a prison in the mid-Atlantic state of North Carolina, is eligible for parole in November 2015, 30 years after his arrest.

    But U.S. officials are reported considering his release as soon as the start of Passover in mid-April, as an incentive for Israel to continue the latest round of peace talks with Palestinian leaders.

    Pollard was a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy when he was recruited by Israeli agents in the 1980s. He was paid $50,000 and expected to get much more for passing thousands of classified documents to his Israeli handlers, including U.S. satellite data on Soviet weaponry.

    His leaks eventually drew the attention of his colleagues, who alerted U.S. authorities. Pollard was arrested as he unsuccessfully sought asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington.

    Pollard's case is unusual in that he was caught spying for a U.S. ally. Israeli officials have long championed his bid for freedom. Israel granted Pollard citizenship in 1995, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he was out of office, visited the imprisoned Pollard in 2002.

    Some researchers looking at Pollard's case say his spy efforts were more extensive than just working for Israel. Former U.S. naval intelligence officials have claimed Pollard offered U.S. secrets to three other countries before working for the Israelis, and to a fourth nation while carrying out the spying for Tel Aviv.

    But some prominent U.S. officials say the life prison term Pollard was handed after pleading guilty to espionage is excessive. The 2008 Republican U.S. presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and one-time Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey have all called for Pollard's release.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ian from: USA
    April 01, 2014 9:03 PM
    "his possible release may be the key to keeping the fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace talks from collapsing"
    No and no, his release will have no effect whatsoever on the peace talk . It is an excuse . And no traitor who passed on classified information to another country should be release on a flimsy "maybe"
    If Israel & Palestine want peace they will have peace between themselves regardless of any input from another country. If every American is more loyal to & spies for another ancestral country than think of the USA first , what would become of our country ?
    If they think that sentence is excessive for their spy, then they should be ashamed for the deliberate attack and attempt to sink the navy intelligence ship USS liberty on June 8th, 1967 which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others.
    They shot down the second American flag after destroyed the first, they used napalm and missiles , they even attacked life rafts.
    Now, that is what any American should agree that it is an excessive action from a supposedly allied of us.

    In Response

    by: Ian from: USA
    April 03, 2014 1:06 PM
    To E from Louisiana .
    I hold the same thought on all traitors, if this article about an American of Russian ethnic background , I would have the exact same opinion (If I understand correctly, because Pollard is an American citizen when he did his crime, I consider his action a traitor's action), because our country is composed of so many ethnics, religious background I believe it is more crucial that our loyalty has a priority for the benefit of all Americans.
    Pollard is just one, on the News, there are quite a few Chinese Americans who did similar actions recently and transfer informations to China. I would love to see them in similar sentence I myself, would have fond thought of my ancestors' land & but would not consider putting any other country before the USA
    In Response

    by: E from: Louisiana
    April 03, 2014 10:50 AM
    Treason is definitely not the same as espionage. So calling him a traitor is pure ignorance. To be consistent, do you also show the same lynch-mob-mentality towards Russian spies of the past, who actually were tried and convicted of real high treason (and not the lesser crime of espionage)? Somehow I doubt it. Amazingly, the Russian Traitors (who really were real traitors) got out DECADES earlier than Pollard did. Hmmm. I can't imagine why there is such a difference in treatment. On the other hand, maybe I can imagine why. No one is saying he shouldn't be punished. But we just create facts out of thin air, based on how pissed of our intelligence agencies were - about being dooped.

    by: NasBud from: USA
    April 01, 2014 12:36 PM
    The "ally" who gets $billions of our money, and cheated us by extracting our secrets wants to extract some more to continue the PEACE talks !! These talks have been ongoing for 20-30 years, what do they talk about for that long? The land they talked about in the first several years, is already annexed by the peaceful state of israel !

    No shame ???

    by: nr1 from: USA
    April 01, 2014 12:33 PM
    Did anyone ever imagine, they would ever witness the day, when deeply conservative John McCain, George Schultz,and Henry Kissinger would all support the pardoning of an American traitor?

    A man who committed espionage against his own country of the USA.

    Nope, unless, of course, their benefactors at, AIPAC, told them to help out; It will not make one bit of difference to changing Israel's position to any serious restart of the peace process.

    by: Jim from: Ohio
    April 01, 2014 12:21 PM
    This man committed a treasonous act against the people of the United States, and he needs to serve his sentence. Let thew ICC deal with Israel's reluctance to follow the United Nations mandates. The people of the US demand justice for every petty crime committed, let this criminal pay his penalty as well.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora