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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More