Israeli officials are reportedly exploring the possibility of asking US President Donald Trump for a sentence commutation or pardon for former spy Jonathan Pollard, who is seeking to emigrate to Israel.
According to a Friday Channel 13 report, officials are split regarding the chances of such a prospect, with some believing that Trump is too focused on challenging the results of the election he lost to be approached regarding Pollard’s case, while others believe that there are members of the administration who would be willing to hear out such a request.
Trump is widely expected to hand out a raft of pardons during his last few weeks in office.
However, Pollard may not even need Trump, as his parole is up for review on November 21, and the Justice Department could decide to commute his sentence. The current terms of his parole bar Pollard from leaving the country for a minimum of five years, but that restriction expires this month, and the Justice Department could decide not to extend it.
Pollard, who served 30 years in prison for providing sensitive intelligence to Israel, made a public appeal to Netanyahu last year and asked him to intervene on his behalf to urge Trump to commute his parole, so he could care for his sick wife.
He told Channel 12 news at the time that his wife Esther had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer for the third time.
איך נראים החיים של ג׳ונתן פולארד, ולמה יזם את הראיון הנרחב בביתו: הערב במהדורה pic.twitter.com/iLOYSL4Lgl
— יונה לייבזון yuna leibzon (@YunaLeibzon) August 5, 2019
Pollard, a former civilian US Navy analyst, was given a life sentence in 1987 for passing secrets to Israel. His imprisonment was a longtime point of tension in Israeli-US relations, with Israeli and Jewish leaders petitioning their US counterparts for years in order to secure his release.
After his release in November 2015, Pollard was given a five-year probation period, during which he is not allowed to travel outside the United States. The parole terms also require him to stay in his New York home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., to submit any computer he uses for inspection, and to wear a GPS monitoring device at all times.
The 66-year-old was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995 and says he wants to settle in the Jewish state with his family.
In 2017, a US federal appeals court rejected Pollard’s request to lift his parole conditions.
In November 2018, Channel 12 reported the US Justice Department had refused a formal request by Israel to allow Pollard to emigrate. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also said to have asked Trump to let Pollard move to Israel.