U.S. preparing to release Jonathan Pollard: Wall Street Journal

Israelis calling for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard during President Obama’s visit to Jerusalem in 2013. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration is preparing to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in the next few months, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Pollard may be released in the next few weeks or by Nov. 21, the date he is officially eligible for parole under rules in place when he was sentenced to life in 1987, the Journal reported in an alert on Friday.

The White House referred JTA to the Department of Justice, which did not immediately comment. The campaign to release Pollard had no comment. Pollard, a former analyst for the U.S. Navy, was arrested in 1985.The Journal quoted administration officials as saying that they hoped the release would help smooth relations with Israel, fraught in recent weeks because of the nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers. However, it also quoted officials as adamantly saying that Pollard’s release is not related to the Iran deal.

“Mr. Pollard’s status will be determined by the United States Parole Commission according to standard procedures,” Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told JTA. “There is absolutely zero linkage between Mr. Pollard’s status and foreign policy considerations.”

The Obama administration favors the sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal, while Israel says it will leave Iran on the threshold of acquiring a nuclear weapon.