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Israel welcomes former spy in U.S. after 30 years in jail


TEL AVIV — A former U.S. #Navy analyst who served 30 years in jail for spying for #Israel arrived in #Tel #Aviv on #Wednesday, kissing the ground as he was welcomed with a prayer by #Prime #Minister #Benjamin #Netanyahu.

#As a civilian intelligence analyst, #Jonathan #Pollard, 66, sold military secrets to #Israel in the 1980s. #He was arrested in 1985 after trying unsuccessfully to gain asylum at the #Israeli #Embassy in #Washington and pleaded guilty.

#He was sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment, but was released in 2015 on parole.

#Convicted #Israeli spy #Jonathan #Pollard leaves U.S. #District court in the #Manhattan borough of #New #York on #Nov. 20, 2015.#Lucas #Jackson / #Reuters file
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The espionage affair involving #Pollard became a decades-long sticking point between the U.S. and its ally, #Israel, but a U.S. #Justice #Department decision last month to let #Pollard’s parole terms’ five-year travel ban go un-renewed was seen by some as a parting gift to #Netanyahu by #President #Donald #Trump. #It could give the #Israeli leader a welcome boost as he fights for reelection in next year’s parliamentary elections.

#On #Wednesday, #Netanyahu met #Pollard and his wife #Esther on the tarmac as they disembarked in #Tel #Aviv, the prime minister’s office said.

The couple kissed the ground as they left the plane.

“We are ecstatic to be home at last after 35 years,” #Pollard was quoted as saying by #Netanyahu’s office as he was greeted by the prime minister.

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#After saying a #Hebrew prayer of thanksgiving, #Netanyahu presented #Pollard with an #Israeli identity card and told him and his wife: “Now you can start life anew, with freedom and happiness. #Now you are at home,” #Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

“We hope to become productive citizens as soon and as quickly as possible and to get on with our lives here,” #Pollard said, according to the statement.

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#After #Pollard’s arrival, #Israel’s president, #Reuven #Rivlin and several lawmakers tweeted congratulations and greetings to the #Pollards, who left from the airport for an undisclosed location.

#Effi #Lahav, head of an activist group that had campaigned for #Pollard’s release from prison, told the #Associated #Press #Pollard’s “arrival was (kept) secret since we realized it’s better to be discreet regarding his arrival.”

“We have no interest in defying anyone, for sure not … the #United #States,” #Lahav said.

#He called #Pollard’s arrival “very moving and very historic” and a moment that his organization “waited for, wished for and prayed for and acted for throughout all these years.”

#Paul #Goldman reported from #Tel #Aviv, #Yuliya #Talmazan from #London.

#Reuters and the #Associated #Press contributed to this report.





[ source link ]
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/jonathan-pollard-israel-welcomes-former-spy-u-s-after-30-n1252523

##Israel #welcomes #spy #years #jail

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