MODIIN, Israel (AP) — The ex-wife of imprisoned Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard on Tuesday implored the Israeli government to secure his release, saying her former husband’s health could be in danger if he remains behind bars much longer.
U.S. officials say they are considering freeing Pollard, who has spent nearly three decades in a U.S. federal prison, as part as a package to extend Mideast peace talks. The emerging deal has raised controversy in Israel because it would include the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
The proposal hit a snag late Tuesday when the Palestinians announced they were resuming a campaign for recognition at the United Nations, a move that threatened to derail the peace efforts because of Israeli opposition. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, however, said it was “completely premature” to declare the peace process over.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Anne Pollard said she is praying Israel will do everything in its power to free her former husband. She said that neither she nor Pollard support the release of Palestinian prisoners who have been convicted of violent attacks on Israelis. But she said Pollard’s health is so poor that she fears this is the only chance for him to go free.
“I am so afraid of his health right now, and I really truly have no idea how he has lasted this long and I have no idea how much longer he could last,” she said.
Jonathan Pollard was arrested in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of turning over reams of classified documents to Israeli handlers. Confined to a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, the 59-year-old Pollard is eligible for parole late next year.
The Pollards divorced after Jonathan was imprisoned, and he has since remarried. But Anne Pollard, who served a prison sentence of her own, said she keeps a close eye on the case and on his wellbeing. She now lives in Israel.
She said Jonathan Pollard is in “terrible shape” and suffers from a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, urological issues and diabetes.
“He has lost really the best years of his life,” she said. “While Jonathan and I are vehemently anti- releasing terrorists . I have to speak from my own experience and know that Jonathan must be released at this time because I fear if he is not, this might be the last opportunity for him.”