JERUSALEM - Thirty-five years after he was convicted in the United States of spying for Israel, former U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard arrived Wednesday in Tel Aviv with his wife Esther. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met him at the plane with his new Israeli identity card. Pollard, who served 30 years in a U.S. prison, was on parole for five years before the U.S. allowed him to leave the country.
Jonathan and Esther Pollard arrived in Tel Aviv on a private plane owned by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson. After deplaning, Pollard knelt and kissed the ground, and he helped his wife, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment, so she could do the same.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was emotional as he greeted Pollard, telling them, “You are home.”
The prime minister said it was an emotional moment for him and then said a blessing thanking God, who frees prisoners.
Pollard said he was ecstatic to be in Israel and thanked Netanyahu.
He said he and his wife are proud of Israel and hope to quickly become productive citizens and get on with their lives. Pollard said it is a wonderful country with a tremendous future. He said it is the future of the Jewish people and he and his wife are not going anywhere.”
Pollard was arrested in the United States in 1985 for giving Israel hundreds of top secret documents that he had access to as a U.S. naval intelligence specialist. According to a CIA report, most of the documents dealt with Arab states in the Middle East and the military support they received from what was then the Soviet Union. The CIA report concluded that Pollard had “put at risk important U.S. intelligence and foreign policy interests.”
Many Israelis said that Pollard had been given a harsher sentence for spying for an ally, Israel, than others who had spied for the Soviet Union. Pollard said he did it to support Israel, but he was also paid for the information.
He served 30 years of a life sentence before being released on parole. For five years he had to wear an ankle monitor and was not allowed to leave the U.S. His parole ended a month ago.
In Israel, many welcomed his release.
Pollard and his wife went to a Jerusalem apartment where they will quarantine for two weeks, according to current rules in Israel.