Israel's Netanyahu welcomes end of travel ban on ex-spy Pollard

Pollard family Jonathan and Esther Pollard

Pollard family Jonathan and Esther Pollard

"It's something we've been hoping for many, many years", Pollard's former lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, said in an interview.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday welcomed the ending of strict parole conditions on convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, an American jailed in the United States in 1985 for spying for Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the lifting of the restrictions on Jonathan Pollard in a statement released after the conclusion of the Sabbath on Saturday evening.

Jonathan Pollard served 30 years for giving away classified US documents and had been confined by parole terms to the United States since his release in 2015, despite Israeli pressure to allow him to leave.

He passed thousands of crucial USA documents to Israel, straining relations between the two close allies.

A year and a half into his espionage he was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in 1985 while trying to claim asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Pollard was given a life sentence, and USA defense and intelligence officials consistently argued against releasing Pollard. He was initially released to a strict five-year parole on November 15, 2015.

Friday's decision marked the latest in a string of gestures by the outgoing Trump administration toward Israel.

After his release in 2015, he remained subject to a curfew, had to wear a wrist monitor, and was prohibited from working for any company that lacked US government monitoring software on its computer systems. The Trump administration also has recognized that Israel's capital is Jerusalem. Pollard's attorneys say the 66-year-old plans move to Israel.

A five-year travel ban was placed on him as well as parole conditions including a curfew, restrictions on what jobs he could take and a location tag. In his statement, Netanyahu thanked his ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, for conducting talks with the American government.

"We are grateful and delighted that our client is finally free of any restrictions, and is now a free man in all respects", Mr Pollard's lawyers said. After reviewing his case, the department's Parole Commission said Friday there was "no evidence to conclude that he is likely to violate the law", The Associated Press reported.

"For many years the Prime Minister has been committed to, and consistently worked towards, securing Pollard's release", Netanyahu's office said. "We look forward to seeing our client in Israel". "Now we will be able to welcome him and his family home", Rivlin said on Twitter.

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