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Will Jonathan Pollard Be Released in November?

The convicted spy is nearing the end of his 30-year sentence, and he may be eligible for parole

Jonathan Zalman
July 21, 2015
Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters in Jerusalem, November 16, 2003. Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images
Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters in Jerusalem, November 16, 2003. Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images

On November 21, 1985, Jonathan Pollard a Texas-born intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, who had spied for Israel, was arrested with his wife, Anne, outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. He was given a life sentence and “became the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying on an ally,” reported the New York Times. (His wife was sentenced to two five years in prison as an accessory, and was released after three.) Pollard, 61, who is currently doing time in a medium security federal prison in North Carolina, was granted Israeli citizenship 20 years ago.

Late last week, and over the weekend, numerous outlets picked up on the fact that Pollard is listed as being eligible for parole on November 21, 2015, or 30 years since his sentencing. Ynet reported that legislators recently increased the sentence for espionage to 45 years; however, this would not apply to Pollard who was “imprisoned under the old law:”

The parole board of the prison holding Pollard met several days ago to discuss the issue and a final decision is expected at the end of July. If the Department of Justice doesn’t attempt to impose the new 45-year law on Pollard, he is likely to be released. According to the law, the Department of Justice can only appeal Pollards release with evidence that he poses a threat to the public or that he misbehaved in prison.

But The Times of Israel reporter Rebecca Shimoni Stoil reached out to Eliot Lauer, one of Pollard’s pro-bono lawyers, who told her that he had received no word or indication of his client’s release.

“Under the system he could be released unless the government or the parole commission would conclude that they’re not releasing him,” Lauer said. “The presumption is that until the parole commission says he should be released, he doesn’t get released.”

We here at Tablet support his release, and a statement from our editors can be read here.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.