Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard - spymuseum.comBorn in 1954, the son of a microbiologist teaching at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. Was raised with a deep love for Israel instilled within him. Often vowed to migrate to Israel to live and to aid in fighting against the country’s enemies.

Was educated at Stanford University, graduating with a degree in Political Science in 1976 and enrolled in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. While in school, Pollard often reveled in telling school mates of his adventures related to his father’s work with the CIA. He often created stories such as this, and even went so far as to enter fabricated information in an application for employment with the U.S. Government. After failing to complete finish his pursuits in graduate school, Pollard took a job with the U.S. Navy Intelligence, working as a research specialist in 1979.

Observed what he considered considerable anti-antisemitism within the dealings between the Untied States and Israeli, with Pollard believing the United States often withheld information from its ally.

In 1984, was assigned to serve as an analyst for the Naval Investigation Service, given special clearances and access to sensitive materials. Often shared some of this information with confidants and acquaintances.

Was recruited by Rafi Eitan, the head of the Bureau of Scientific Relations and was introduced to Israeli war hero Colonel Aviem “Avi” Sella, who was serving as an Israeli operative under the cover of being a graduate student at New York University. At a meeting in May 1984, Pollard offered to supply Israel with sensitive information in order to help Israel in strengthening its defense systems. He turned over information related to Iraqi chemical weaponry. Another Israeli agent, Yosef Yagur, was assigned as Pollard’s handler.

Pollard turned over thousands of documents to Yagur (he was able, because of his clearance, to simply check the documents out and take them home with him at night). In return, Pollard received $2,500 each month, as well as other gifts (including a diamond and sapphire engagement ring for his fiance, Anne Henderson).

Jonathan Pollard - spymuseum.comMany of the secrets Pollard turned over were related to weaponry employed by Israel’s enemies, including Iraq. Pollard gathered most of his information by searching Defense Intelligence Agency databases and conducted searches up to three times each week. Often, he provided original documents to his Israeli contacts, allowing them to photocopy them over the weekend, after which they would return them in time for him to return to work on Monday morning.

The range of materials that he provided including satellite photographs, weaponry assessments, and secret internal documents. Over time, Israel requested more and more information, and continued rewarding Pollard handsomely. He was treated to vacations in Europe (including his honeymoon) and was lavished with monetary gifts). At one point , he was presented with an Israeli passport and was told that a Swiss bank account had been opened on his behalf containing $30,000, along with a promise that $30,000 would be added for the next ten years.

Eventually, Pollard’s excessive research and requests for data alerted officials at NIS, including his supervisor, Jerry Agee. An investigation found that several highly sensitive documents that he requested were not within his workspace, and thus likely had been removed from the building. The FBI was alerted and began observing him.

On November 18, 1985, Pollard was stopped and questioned by the FBI and NIS security officials. In his possession were several top secret documents. He was questioned repeatedly over the course of the next few days and growing desperate, ran to the Israeli embassy for safety. Followed by FBI surveillance teams, the Pollards were confident that they would find sanctuary within the gates of the embassy, but instead were denied. Demanding political asylum, he was ordered by Israeli security to leaves the embassy grounds. The couple was soon thereafter arrested.

Jonathan Pollard - spymuseum.comThe fallout that Israel had engaged in espionage against the United States was immense. Public outcry and anger caused a backlash against Israel and jeopardized the country’s political and intelligence relationship with the United States. Israel tried to deflect the blame for the activity, claiming it to be a rouge operation.

Pollard cooperated with U.S. officials, but argued that he was not spying against the United States, but rather for Israel, to whom he had a greater allegiance. He also argued that much of his information was basically useless to the Israelis but the prosecutors demonstrated that some of the material was funneled by Soviet moles within the Israeli intelligence system and had compromised hundred of agents and friendlies in the Arab world.

Pollard pled guilty to espionage and was sentenced to life in prison. His wife was sentenced to two lesser crime and received a five year sentence, during which she complained vigorously about her treatment. She was released after three years and promptly divorced Pollard.

Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther following his release. Pollard was considered a hero in Israel and many attempts were made to secure his release. Several Israeli officials made overtures towards the Bush and Clinton administrations but were denied.

After serving more than 30 years in a federal prison, Pollard was paroled on November 20, 2015. Under the terms of his parole he can not leave the United States without permission for five years and is subject to wearing an ankle bracelet monitor. His requests to move to Israel has been denied.


Jonathan Pollard – 25 years in captivity


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