WASHINGTON — The White House and State Department on Friday refused to confirm or deny an Israeli report that Secretary of State John Kerry was offering the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in return for Israel freeing Arab Israeli prisoners as part of its next round of Palestinian prisoner releases.
In a report that included no input from official U.S. sources, Israel’s Channel 10 reportedly cited Israeli sources who said that Kerry was prepared to offer Pollard’s release though the decision hadn’t been approved by President Barack Obama.
Pollard was convicted in 1987 of stealing classified information and passing it on to the Israeli government while working as an intelligence analyst. He was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995 and his eventual release has become a cause in Israeli politics, with 106 members of the Knesset signing a letter to Obama this week calling for Pollard to be freed from prison.
Spokespeople for the White House and the State Department declined to comment on the report.
Pollard is eligible for parole in 2015.