Interview with agent who caught US-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan PollardBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Twenty-six years ago this month, a United States court convicted Jonathan Jay Pollard, a US Navy analyst who had been caught spying on his country for Israel. Pollard, who is still serving his life sentence, enjoys tremendous popularity in Israel as well as among pro-Israeli public figures in the US. His supporters in Israel and elsewhere view him as a hero who is serving an unfairly harsh sentence and they pressure the US government to release him. In light of that, it is worth paying attention to a recent radio interview with the man who caught him spying on America. The interview was conducted by Mike Lanchin, a reporter and producer for BBC radio’s Witness program. Lanchin managed to trace Ron Olive, a retired Assistant Special Agent at US Navy Counterintelligence, who in June 1986 cracked the Pollard case, leading to the spy’s arrest and eventual conviction. Olive, who now runs his own security consultancy firm in Arizona, told Witness that it took him and his fellow investigators over six months to piece together their case against Pollard. He added that, according to his investigation, “Pollard stole so many documents, so highly classified, more so than any other spy in the history of this country, in such a short period of time”. The case, said Olive, was the worst he had ever seen and it “devastated the entire [US] Intelligence Community”. The reason was not only the volume of stolen classified material, but also the fact that Pollard “could have been stopped from the very beginning”. Read more of this post

US rejects calls to free Navy analyst who spied for Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack ObamaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
The White House has rejected persistent calls by Israeli politicians and lobbyists to free a United States Navy intelligence analyst serving a life sentence for giving classified US government documents to Israel. Jonathan Jay Pollard was convicted in 1987 for selling classified information to the Israeli government. Ronald Olive, a former counterintelligence officer for the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who led the US Navy’s prosecution of Jonathan Pollard, has described Pollard’s spying activity as “one of the most devastating cases of espionage in US history”, involving the theft of over “one million classified documents”. Recently it emerged that, before spying for Israel, Pollard had attempted to spy on the US for the government of Australia. However, in Israel, Pollard, who is now an Israeli subject after renouncing his American citizenship, is widely considered a national hero. Last week, senior Israeli political figures renewed persistent calls to the administration of US President Barack Obama to free Pollard. According to the Israelis’ reasoning, the life sentence imposed on Pollard is too harsh considering that he spied for a US ally. Last week’s calls were led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged the White House to free the convicted spy “in the spirit of the Jewish Passover. Netanyahu said that “the Festival of Freedom of all the Jews should be turned into Pollard’s private one”. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plea was echoed in a personal letter addressed to President Obama by Israeli President Shimon Peres, along with a petition signed by over 80 members of the Israeli Knesset. Read more of this post

Analysis: Why Did Bush Not Pardon Israeli Spy?

In his latest article for The Santa Barbara News Press, Robert Eringer, the former FBI counterintelligence agent who now works for Prince Albert II of Monaco, reminds intelligence observers of the case of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Jay Pollard. Pollard, who has so far served 24 years of a life sentence, was found guilty in 1987 of spying on the US on behalf of Israel, while working as a US Navy intelligence analyst. Since his arrest and conviction, Pollard has been considered something of a national hero in Israel, and an enormous effort has been launched to secure his release. Israeli newspapers, whose articles routinely liken Pollard to Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Hamas in 2006,  disclosed earlier this month that a “massive campaign was conducted behind the scenes in Washington to persuade US president George W. Bush to commute Pollard’s sentence”. The effort, which included “tens of thousands of phone calls” that “flooded the White House”, was so enormous that several Israeli insiders considered Pollard’s release almost certain. Pollard remained imprisoned after all, and the question is, why did George W. Bush not succumb to these lobbying pressures? Read article →

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