Israeli spy Pollard released after 30 years in US jail

Jonathan Pollard was released from nearly 30 years in prison on Friday, Nov 20.
Jonathan Pollard was released from nearly 30 years in prison on Friday, Nov 20.PHOTO: REUTERS

Jerusalem (AFP) - Jewish American Jonathan Pollard was released from nearly 30 years in prison for passing US secrets to Israel on Friday in a move swiftly welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard," said Netanyahu, who had long pressed for the spy's release.

"As someone who raised Jonathan's case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come.

"After three long and difficult decades, Jonathan has been reunited with his family. May this Sabbath bring him much joy and peace that will continue in the years and decades ahead."

Pollard, now 61, became very religious behind bars, and his release allows him to observe the Jewish Sabbath which begins at sundown on Friday.

He was freed from prison in Butner, North Carolina, but a spokesman for his Israeli supporters group had no immediate word on Pollard's whereabouts after his release.

He is barred from leaving the United States for five years unless granted permission by President Barack Obama.