US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch said Israeli-American spy Jonathan Pollard has served enough time in prison to be released pending a parole board review, and stressed that the US Justice Department would not interfere in the process.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Saturday, Lynch, like other US officials before her, denied that Pollard’s release would have any connection to the nuclear deal with Iran and a supposed need to placate Israel.
“It would have been extremely far-thinking of people 30 years ago to set this mandatory release date to coincide with the Iran deal,” she said, dryly, of Pollard’s parole eligibility which will come into effect in November. The spy has been behind bars since November 1985 and was convicted in 1987 of spying for the Jewish state.
Obama administration officials hinted late last week that they will release Pollard when he becomes eligible for parole in November. But both Israeli and American sources on Sunday denied that the reported move — which has not been officially confirmed — is being considered in an attempt to assuage Israeli anger over the recent Iran nuclear deal, as reported in the Wall Street Journal on Friday.
“After 30 years, Pollard has to be released. That is the maximum period,” MK Nachman Shai, chairman of the Knesset caucus for Pollard’s release, told The Washington Post on Sunday. “No other prisoner has served in a US prison for such a long period for a similar crime.
“They did not treat him well and they took it up to the worst point. So to say that this is a gesture from the American side to soften the Iran deal is an insult — and that is the least I can say,” Shai said.
According to US officials cited in the report, some are pushing for Pollard’s release in a matter of weeks, while others say it could take months.
ABC News’ managing editor tweeted Friday night that US officials had confirmed to ABC that the former US Navy analyst was set to be released in November, when he is eligible for parole.
But in a Channel 2 interview Saturday, his former wife Anne Pollard stressed, “There is no official word that Jonathan is being released on any date… There is no news, no official response on that whatsoever.”
AP contributed to this report.