Congressmen: Let Pollard make aliyah in exchange for citizenship

Two senior Democratic Congressman have written a letter to the US Department of Justice urging “fair consideration” of Jonathan Pollard’s wish to emigrate to Israel upon his release this week.

On Friday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet; and Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-16), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, appealed directly to US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch to consider Jonathan Pollard’s “expressed desire to reunite with his family in Israel following his 30 year prison sentence.”

In their letter, they noted that authorities have acknowledged that there is “no reasonable probability” that the convicted spy would commit any future crimes after his release. However, reports suggest President Barack Obama will not intervene to wave a five-year ban on Pollard leaving the United States after his release. Given Pollard’s poor health, many campaigners have warned such a lengthy ban could preclude him from ever being reunited with his wife.

“Pollard understands that, as a condition of being permitted to move to Israel, he may need to renounce his American citizenship,” the Congressman wrote. “Despite the serious consequences that may follow such a decision, including being permanently barred from returning to the United States, he is willing to undertake this extraordinary measure.”

Engel and Nadler noted that there was a recent precedent to honoring such a request.

“In May of 2013, DOJ [Dept. of Justice – ed.] allowed René González, a member of the so-called “Cuban 5,” to renounce his citizenship and live in Cuba.  Mr. González served more than 8 years in prison for a 2001 espionage conviction for taking part in a spying ring on behalf of the Cuban government.

“While on probation, DOJ allowed Mr. González to attend his father’s funeral in Cuba. Despite DOJ’s prior insistence that he serve his entire probation in the United States, DOJ allowed Mr. González to renounce his American citizenship and remain in Cuba, on condition that he never return to the U.S.

“Similarly, Mr. Pollard asks that he be permitted to leave the United States and join his family in Israel. Mr. Pollard understands that this would likely mean that he would never be able to return.”

“We believe that America’s interests and the interests of justice would be served if DOJ were to grant Jonathan Pollard’s request to reunite with his wife and move to Israel upon his release,” they concluded.

“In its discussions of Mr. Pollard mandatory parole, DOJ has already acknowledged that there is no reasonable probability that he will commit any future crimes after his release.  If DOJ allows him to leave the United States permanently, this would become a near-certainty.  We respectfully ask that you give this request fair consideration.