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Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, who passed US secrets to Israel, arrives in Tel Aviv

News Agencies | Updated on: 31 December 2020, 9:06 IST

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard arrived in Israel on Wednesday after spending three decades behind bars in America for passing secrets to the Middle Eastern country.

He was arrested in 1985 for spying while working as a US Navy analyst, CNN reported.
The US department ended his parole last month.

He and his wife, Esther, flew to Israel on a private aircraft owned by Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate and supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu received him on the airport and handed him an Israeli ID.

"We are ecstatic to be home at last after 35 years," said Pollard, according to a statement from Netanyahu's office. "And we thank the people and the Prime Minister of Israel for bringing us home."

Netanyahu said the Pollards would now be able to start a new life "in freedom and happiness."

In the 1980s, Pollard interacted with high ranking Israeli officials and handed them classified documents on Israel's Arab adversaries and military support.

The Navy intelligence unit became suspicious of his actions in the fall of 1985 because he was handling large amounts of classified information to Israeli officials.

Three days later, he and his then-wife, Anne Henderson Pollard, were arrested outside the Israeli embassy in Washington after the embassy refused to accept their request for asylum, according to the CIA.

A CIA report said Pollard's case "has few parallels among known U.S. espionage cases" and that he had "put at risk important U.S. intelligence and foreign policy interests."

At the time, Pollard was working as a US Navy intelligence analyst. He was arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life in prison two years later. He was eventually released on parole in 2015 but was barred from leaving for Israel.

His case became a cause celebre in the Jewish state, where leaders from across the political spectrum pushed for him to be allowed to come to Israel.


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First published: 31 December 2020, 9:03 IST