Israeli Minister to Visit Jonathan Pollard

Associated Press, Jerusalem - February 1, 2004

JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli Cabinet minister will visit convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in the North Carolina prison where he is serving a life sentence for providing Israel with classified documents, a spokeswoman for the minister said Sunday.

The case of Pollard, held at a federal prison in Butner, N.C., has been a point of contention in U.S.-Israeli relations, with the Israeli government repeatedly pressing for his release.

Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, was caught in Washington in November 1985. He was arrested after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli Embassy.

Cabinet Minister Natan Sharansky will visit Pollard this week, Sharansky spokeswoman Iris Goldman said. She said his trip was approved at Sunday's Cabinet meeting, but declined to elaborate on its purpose.

Sharansky himself served nine years in a Soviet prison for anti-state activities and spying in connection with efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews. He was freed in a prisoner exchange in 1986 and flew to Israel.