The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) issued the following statement today following Jonathan Pollard’s release from prison:
“The National Council of Young Israel is extraordinarily grateful that Jonathan Pollard is now out of prison and reunited with his family. After spending thirty years in prison for passing classified information to an ally of the United States, we are grateful that Jonathan Pollard was able to endure his sentence and live to get out of jail.
“We were grateful that in his statement several months ago when he was notified he was being released, Jonathan Pollard specifically thanked the National Council of Young Israel, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, and NCYI President Farley Weiss, for our work over many years to get to this day. The National Council of Young Israel wishes Jonathan Pollard much success, happiness and good health as he re-enters society after a long and difficult thirty years in prison.”
STATEMENT FROM ASSEMBLYMAN DOV HIKIND:
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), who has long advocated on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, welcomed his release from federal prison. Hikind also appealed to President Barack Obama to allow Pollard to fulfill his dream of moving to Israel. Under the terms of his release, Pollard is required by the U.S. Parole Commission to remain in the United States, under supervision, for five years.
“I welcome Jonathan Pollard’s long overdue release from federal prison,” Hikind said, noting that, “Pollard’s life sentence was disproportionate and disparate to that of individuals convicted of a similar crime. After all these years and numerous appeals, we are happy that Pollard is finally free. We appeal to President Obama to permit Pollard to go to Israel forthwith in order to live there with his wife Esther.”
Jonathan Pollard, a civilian analyst for the U.S. Navy, was given a life sentence in 1987 after pleading guilty to passing on classified documents to Israel. Advocates repeatedly called for Pollard’s release on the grounds that his sentence was unduly harsh, his health is failing, and he has expressed genuine remorse for his actions. On July 7, 2015, the U.S. Parole Commission voted unanimously to grant parole to Pollard, but he is required to remain in the United States for five years. In a statement by Pollard’s attorneys Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman on July 28, 2015, they noted, “President Obama…has the authority…to allow Mr. Pollard to leave the United States and move to Israel immediately. We respectfully urge the President to exercise his clemency power in this manner.” A spokesman for President Obama has stated that he will not intervene in the matter.
Assemblyman Hikind has been advocating on behalf of Pollard for decades and visited him at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, North Carolina. At the time, Hikind said, “It was humbling to look into the eyes of a man who spent 22 years of his life in confinement, and see a faith so deep and strong that even in federal detention, he has stringently adhered to the laws of Kashrus, under the harshest of circumstances, though he is in very poor health. His condition is not being monitored or treated adequately and is deteriorating. He became a baal Teshuva more than 15 years ago and has never looked back, only forward. He has paid his debt. All he wants is to go home to Israel and be with his dear and beloved wife, Esther.”