The Chicago Tribune

January 24, 1996 - Israel bids to gain spy's freedom with citizenship

JERUSALEM - Israel made spy Jonathan Pollard a citizen Wednesday, saying it is determined to win freedom for the American Jew jailed for life in the United States a decade ago for passing secrets to the Jewish state.

Interior Minister Haim Ramon issued a certificate of citizenship along with a passport that he signed in front of journalists and handed to Pollard's lawyers for delivery to Pollard later this week.

"What we are going today is presenting our determination, our commitment that Jonathan Pollard will be released and will come home to Israel," Ramon said.

Pollard, 37, embarrassed Israel and the American Jewish community in 1985 when as a U.S. naval intelligence analyst, he was caught passing secret information on Arab countries to Israel.

Ramon's warm remarks contrasted sharply with the cold should Israel gave Pollard at the time of his arrest. At the time, it said he had been controlled by a rogue operation not approved by the Israeli government.

Pollard and his then-wife were turned away from the Israeli Embassy in Washington when in 1985 when they tried to elude FBI agents by fleeing into the building.

During his last trip to Washington in September, then-Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin expressed hope that Pollard would be freed and allowed to go to Israel. But President Clinton rebuffed a request for clemency, according to the White House.

Pollard became eligible for parole in November, after serving 10 years of his jail term. He now has both U.S. and Israeli citizenship.