Spy Pollard accuses Israel of not helping him emigrate

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Jonathan Pollard, the American spy jailed for decades, gave a rare interview Tuesday in which he criticised Israel for not helping him emigrate after selling American secrets to the Jewish state.

"It's a question of priorities. There always seems to be something else" more important, Pollard told Channel 12 during an interview at a New York cafe.

Pollard, 64, was released in November 2015 after serving a 30-year term for passing sensitive security documents to Israel while working as a US Navy intelligence analyst.

Under the terms of his release, he was barred from leaving the United States for five years and as a result prevented from moving to Israel.

"To make me a priority would mean that the government actually cared and said 'this is what we want, we want him to come home'. That simply hasn't been done," Pollard said.

He rebuked the Israeli government for "missing several chances" to discuss his case with US President Donald Trump or his predecessor Barack Obama.

Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995, but said he was not in contact with any officials from the country.

But the Israeli government said it remained "determined to ensure the return of Jonathan Pollard to Israel".

"The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has discussed the subject several times with the American president and will do so until he (Pollard) returns," the premier's office said in a statement.

Over the years Israeli right-wing activists have sought to turn Pollard into an icon for what they see as his efforts to defend Israel's security, even when it meant spying on Israel's closest ally.

In the US, however, Pentagon and CIA officials are still angry about the classified documents he leaked after making contact with an Israeli colonel in New York.

Israel's October 1985 raid on the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Tunis headquarters that killed around 60 people was planned with information from Pollard, according to CIA documents declassified in 2012.