Ex-Mossad officer says US promised to free Israeli spy Pollard

Jonathan PollardBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
An Israeli former intelligence officer says Israel was promised by the United States that Jonathan Jay Pollard, a convicted spy who betrayed American secrets to Israel in the 1980s, would be freed after 10 years. Rafi Eitan is an Israeli politician, former cabinet minister, and a veteran officer of the Mossad, Israel’s covert-action agency. In 1985, he resigned from the Mossad after assuming responsibility for the loss of Pollard, a United States Navy intelligence analyst who spied for Israel in exchange for money. Pollard, who acquired Israeli citizenship in 1995, has so far served 28 years of a life sentence in a US prison. Many in US counterintelligence consider him one of the most damaging double spies in American history. But he is widely viewed as a hero in Israel, where many conservative Israelis, as well as pro-Israel Americans, are actively pressuring the US administration of President Barack Obama to release him. On Monday, Eitan spoke to Israeli Army Radio on the Hebrew calendar anniversary of Pollard’s 1985 arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He said in the interview that he had been asked by the Israeli government to appear in Pollard’s trial as his intelligence handler and cooperate with US government prosecutors’ efforts to convict Pollard. According to the former Mossad officer, a backroom deal had been reached between the United States and Israel, whereby Pollard would serve no more than a decade in prison in return for full cooperation with the FBI. However, said Eitan, when the time came for Pollard’s release, the United States “denied there had been a deal”, while the Israeli government failed to protest strongly enough in favor of Pollard’s release. Asked by the interviewer why he thought Washington had reneged on the alleged deal, Eitan said that the Americans displayed “a desire for revenge —to say: ‘you [Israel] were a friendly [country]  and look what you did. So now we will show you’”. The Mossad veteran added that he deeply regretted having helped incriminate Pollard, but is now devoting the final years of his live to help the convicted spy campaign for his release. In recent months, Israel and its supporters have renewed their pressure on the United States to release Pollard. Last spring, several notable Israeli and American citizens signed an extensive petition urging Pollard’s release. They included Israeli President Shimon Peres, as well as several retired generals and Nobel Prize-winning academics. Notable American signatories included former Assistant Secretary for Defense Lawrence Korb, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency James Woolsey, as well as former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger. But in 2011, Lydia Jechorek, Pollard’s FBI interrogator, cautioned against viewing Pollard as an Israeli patriot and revealed that he also spied on the United States for South Africa and tried to spy for Australia, before working as an agent for Israel. In an interview that aired on Israeli television in March, President Obama said he had “no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately” (emphasis added).

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