White House denies reports it offered to release Israeli spy

Jonathan Jay PollardBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
Sources from the White House have anonymously denied a flurry of recent reports in Israeli media that Washington has offered to release Jonathan Jay Pollard, who spied on the United States for Israel. On Friday, Israel’s Channel 10 News claimed that US Secretary of State John Kerry had offered to secure freedom for Pollard, in exchange for the release of 26 longtime Arab prisoners from Israeli jails. Pollard, a US Navy intelligence analyst who spied for Israel in exchange for money, has so far served 28 years of a life sentence in a US prison. Many in US counterintelligence consider Pollard, who acquired Israeli citizenship in 1995, one of the most damaging double spies in American history. But he is widely viewed as a hero in Israel, and many conservative Israelis, as well as pro-Israel Americans, are actively pressuring the US administration of President Barack Obama to release him. Channel 10 said on Friday that Washington might consider freeing Pollard in return for Israel releasing 26 longtime Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons. The Jewish state has so far released 52 Palestinians in the first two phases of a four-phase program, aimed at prompting Palestinian groups to enter peace talks with Tel Aviv. However, a separate report aired on Israel National Radio on Friday evening said that the US Secretary of State had merely promised to pass on to US President Barack Obama an official request to free Pollard, issued by the Israeli government. The report added that the White House had not approved any move to release the jailed spy, and that Israeli officials doubted a deal could be reached with Washington. In an interview with Israel Army Radio on Sunday, American Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, urged listeners not to believe the Channel 10 report, insisting there was “no direct link between Pollard and the [peace] negotiations [with the Palestinians] or the prisoner release. These are different issues”, he said. Later on Sunday, Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth cited unnamed “White House spokespeople” who allegedly “denied” reports of an imminent release of Pollard.  Secretary of State Kerry is scheduled to travel to Israel and the West Bank on January 1.

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