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Watch: Netanyahu speaks with Jonathan Pollard and his wife, Esther

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today spoke by telephone to Jonathan Pollard.

Netanyahu asked Pollard, “When are we going to see you here?” and wished him “a comfortable life where the both of you can pursue your interests and we can take care of Esther with the best medical treatment in the world.”

He also spoke to Esther, saying “Really, come to Israel; it will be a great moment for us all.”

Header: Jonathan Pollard, a former US navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, exits following a hearing at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York City, US, in May 2017. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Notes:

Jonathan Pollard, a US citizen jailed for 30 years after being convicted of spying in one of the most dramatic espionage cases of the cold war, is expected to fly to Israel after being released from parole.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, welcomed the lifting of travel restrictions, his office said in a statement on Saturday, adding that he had “consistently worked towards securing Pollard’s release”.

“The prime minister hopes to see Jonathan Pollard in Israel soon, and together with all Israelis, extends his best wishes to him and his wife Esther,” the statement said.

The US justice department on Friday announced Pollard’s parole would not be renewed, freeing the former spy from strict restrictions that have kept him in the country since he left jail five years ago.

Pollard’s lawyer, Eliot Lauer, also suggested his client would soon depart for Israel: “We are grateful and delighted that our client is finally free of any restrictions, and is now a free man in all respects. We look forward to seeing our client in Israel.”

Having been arrested by FBI agents in 1985 after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli embassy in Washington, Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1987. He had pleaded guilty to handing thousands of classified documents to Israel.

The initial shock between the US and its close ally, and Pollard’s continuing imprisonment, has long strained relations between the two countries.

Pollard’s release was the latest in a series of gestures by the departing Trump administration towards Netanyahu’s government.

Source: The Guardian