Source: Clinton agrees to release convicted spy Pollard
October 23, 1998 - CNN
U.S. President Bill Clinton agreed in
principle Friday to order the release from prison of Israeli
spy Jonathan Pollard and allow him to settle in Israel, a
senior Israeli source told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
The source said Clinton agreed to the release to help
facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the interim
The source said it is possible Pollard's release could come
in time for him to return to Israel this weekend.
Pollard, a U.S. Naval intelligence analyst, has been serving
life sentence since 1987, when he was convicted on charges
of treason and espionage for passing sensitive U.S.
information to the Israeli government.
He was denied parole when he first became eligible two years
ago. He is being held at the federal prison in Butner, North
Pollard's attorney, Larry Dub, told CNN he believes the issue
of Pollard's release was raised at the last minute by the
Israeli negotiators are asking that Pollard be released
immediately, so he can accompany Netanyahu home to Israel,
But Dub also expressed skepticism about Clinton's pledge.
"We'll believe it when we see it," Dub told CNN.
The former U.S. Navy intelligence officer was apprehended by
U.S. authorities in the mid-1980s, as he pounded on the gates
of the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
Pollard has since complained that the Israeli government has
not done enough to get him freed. Several U.S. presidents
have denied requests to pardon him.
After Pollard was apprehended, it emerged that he was
recruited to spy for Israel by a shadowy Israeli
intelligence-gathering body in the United States. Until
recently, Israeli governments disavowed Pollard, and called
his espionage a "rogue operation."
However, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu granted Pollard Israeli citizenship and
acknowledged him as an Israeli agent.
Many Israeli officials, including Cabinet ministers, have
visited Pollard in prison in Butner, North Carolina.
Clinton delayed leaving the Wye River Conference Center,
where the Mideast talks are being held, to work out
last-minute snags on the Pollard release.
Blitzer reported that newly appointed Israeli Defense
Minister Ariel Sharon pressed hard for clemency for Pollard
during the nine days of peace talks. Clinton has rebuffed
past Israeli appeals.