The Wall Street Journal reports that the decision by the federal parole board was unanimous and the US government didn’t oppose his release.
Pollard, 60, was serving a life term in a North Carolina prison after pleading guilty to spying for Israel from June 1984 until his arrest in November 1985.
The former Navy intelligence officer — using his Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information access to national defense information — provided Israel with thousands of pages of US intelligence on military and technical intelligence on the Soviet Union, Arab states, and Pakistan.
The lobby for Pollard’s release has become a mainstream cause in Israel with the general argument being that he has already served 28 years for actions that benefited a key U.S. ally but did not harm the national security of the U.S.
Prosecutors in the case stated that “Pollard compromised a breadth and volume of classified information as great as in any reported espionage case” in U.S. history.
In 2006 Pollard’s handler, superspy Rafi Eitan, told the newspaper Yediot Aharonot that Pollard provided “information of such high quality and accuracy, so good and so important to the country’s security” that “my desire, my appetite to get more and more material overcame me.”
The statement by Pollard’s lawyers noted that the decision “wasn’t in any way related to US negotiations with Iran.” Reports over the weekend implied that US officials were pushing to release Pollard to help smooth things over with Israel after Iran and world powers reached a historic nuclear deal.