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US clears way for convicted Israeli spy to move to Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo of former US Navy intelligence officer and convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard

Former US Navy Intelligence officer and convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard has been cleared to travel to Israel despite his life-imprisonment sentence back in 1986 amid welcoming statement by top Israeli officials.

Israeli regime leaders on Saturday welcomed a decision by US Justice Department’s parole commission to lift parole restrictions on Pollard, a move regarded as a parting gift from the Trump administration to Tel Aviv.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes the lifting of the restrictions on Jonathan Pollard,” said a statement released by his office as quoted in a Reuters report.

“The Prime Minister thanked Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer for responsibly and sensitively leading the contacts with the administration. The Prime Minister hopes to see Jonathan Pollard in Israel soon,” the statement added.

Netanyahu’s statement was echoed by other Israeli regime’s ministers and by its President Ruvi Rivlin.

“Over the years we have shared in Jonathan Pollard’s pain, and felt a responsibility and commitment to bring about his release. Now we will be able to welcome him and his family home,” Rivlin proclaimed in a Twitter post.

The 66-year-old Pollard was released on Parole by the Obama administration in 2015 -- after being sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment -- under terms that dictated he remain in the US for five years.

He spent 30 years behind bars – which included time in custody after his 1985 arrest -- but received special treatment that included regular visits by senior Israeli officials as other pro-Israeli dignitaries within the US, who openly regarded the convicted spy as an Israeli hero.

Pollard pleaded guilty in 1986 to conspiracy to commit espionage in connection with providing Israeli contacts with hundreds of classified documents he had obtained as a naval intelligence specialist in exchange for thousands of dollars.

He has sought to move to Israel, which granted him citizenship while in prison and had long campaigned for his release.

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