Jonathan Pollard (born August 7, 1954) is a former United States government employee who in 1987 pleaded guilty to spying for – and providing above top-secret classified information to Israel. The former intelligence analyst was then sentenced to life in prison.
Pollard is the only American ever to receive a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally of the U.S. Israeli officials, American-Israeli activist groups, and some American politicians who see his punishment as unfair have lobbied continuously for reduction or commutation of his sentence. The Israeli government issued a formal apology to the U.S. for part of its role in Pollard’s espionage in 1987, but did not admit to paying him until 1998. Netanyahu argued that he did not work for anyone but Israel. Since the arrest, Israel has made repeated attempts through both official and unofficial channels to secure Pollard’s release, but without success. Israel granted Pollard Israeli citizenship in 1995. Pollard will be paroled on November 20, 2015.
Numerous past and present US officials oppose any form of clemency, including Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, former CIA director George Tenet, multiple former U.S. Secretaries of Defense, a bipartisan group of U.S. congressional leaders, and members of the American intelligence community. These opponents maintain that the damage to American national security as a result of Pollard’s activities was far more severe and enduring than publicly acknowledged. Intelligence officials contend that at least some of the information given to Israel ended up in the Soviet Union.