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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs