Rumors that former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard may be released from prison – either within the next few weeks, or on parole if the parole board sees fit to release him at its hearing in November – have no connection with U.S.-Israeli discussions about the nuclear deal with Iran.
That is what Washington is saying, and it is what Israeli politicians are repeating.
The U.S. Justice Department said the terms of Pollard’s sentence require that he be released after 30 years unless the government can prove that he violated rules in prison or is likely to commit additional crimes.
In a statement issued Friday, Marc Raimondi said, “The Department of Justice has always and continues to maintain that Jonathan Pollard should serve his full sentence for the serious crimes he committed, which in this case is a 30-year sentence as mandated by statute.”
However, the White House rejected the idea that it was using Pollard’s release as a wedge to pressure Israel to back off on the Iranian nuclear issue.
“There is absolutely zero linkage between Mr. Pollard’s status and foreign policy considerations,” said National Security Council spokesperson Alistair Baskey at a briefing Friday.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked supported the statement, telling local television Channel 2 news on Saturday night, “There is no political or diplomatic involvement here… It is an American legal procedure: the parole commission needs to approve his release from prison after 30 years,” she explained.
First reported by The Wall Street Journal, there are numerous reports that the U.S. may release Pollard before the date of his parole hearing. However, not one official or politician has confirmed those rumors on or off the record.