After serving 10,956 days of jail time in the Buttner facility in North Carolina, on Friday morning at 4:00 A.M. Jonathan Pollard was released from jail. His wife Esther Pollard awaited him outside the jail, and from there they flew to New York to meet the correction officer who will be supervising Pollard. The committee for Pollard's release published first pictures of Pollard with his wife.
The American authorities have placed severe restrictions on Pollard. Among these are a prohibition on his flying to Israel or surfing the internet. He will also be required to wear at all times an electronic chip which will trace all of his movements by GPS and all of his computers will be under constant surveillance. Pollard will be required to live and work in New York alone and to periodically appear before his correction officer and report to him about his actions and doings.
Pollard's lawyers have submitted a request to the American Ministry of Justice to shorten the period in which these restrictions will apply and to allow him to emigrate to Israel. For this reason they tried to limit the media attention around Pollard's release and to maintain a low profile. In order to achieve this they used subterfuge and secretly requested that his release be moved forward to the middle of the night, while everyone expected him to be released at 6:00 A.M. The prison authorities agreed to this and even assisted by preventing access to journalists on the day preceding his release. Israeli politicians were also asked not to wait for Pollard outside the prison facility.
His lawyers have also appealed to the federal court in the New York district regarding the legality of Pollard's terms of release. They maintain that the fact that Pollard's computers will be under constant surveillance will prevent him from finding any employment. Moreover they complained about his requirement of wearing an electronic chip at all times as this will impinge on his right to privacy and on his freedom of movement.
In response, the U.S. deputy advisor for national security, Ben Rhodes, announced that President Obama would not get involved in legal decisions regarding Pollard.
In Israel there is much excitement about Pollard's release. President Reuven Rivlin welcomed the release and said: “Blessed is He who releases prisoners! We all rejoice in the release of Pollard after his long hard years of imprisonment. Over the years we felt the pain of Pollard and sensed our responsibility and obligation to bring about his release. We congratulate Jonathan and his family today on their reunion and wish him many good and healthy years of peace and prosperity”.
Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that “The people of Israel congratulate Jonathan Pollard on his release. As one who raised his issue over many years with US presidents, I looked forward to this day. After three long hard decades Jonathan is finally reunited with his family. I wish for him that this Shabbat will bring him peace and joy which will be a portent for the rest of his life”.