Longtime prisoner Jonathan Pollard was released from the Federal Correction Complex in Butner, North Carolina, after over 30 years of being held on espionage charges on Friday, November 20th.
Esther Pollard, Jonathan’s wife and a number of his closest confidantes were waiting to greet him as he first tasted freedom, at 4:15 a.m. EST and from there they set off for New York to begin their lives anew.
There in New York, a probation officer was assigned to Pollard by the US Department of Justice, and will inspect to make sure the 61-year-old stays within all of the limitations placed on him. Any excursion beyond the immediate area of his residence will require the approval of the probation officer.
He will likewise be forbidden from flying to Israel - and will even be forbidden from checking the internet.
Unprecedented prison sentence
Pollard, who was arrested on charges of spying for Israel in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison, began his 31st year in jail as prisoner 09185-016 this past November. He has been suffering from poor health and has become the subject of a high-profile campaign for his release.
Last year, the Parole Board of the Justice Department rejected Pollard's parole, with senior U.S. officials involved in the case writing to US President Barack Obama to complain that the decision was "deeply flawed".
Once Pollard's release was granted, however, controversy remained over the conditions of his parole, after Obama and other top-ranking officials refused to intervene to allow him to return home to Israel before the 5-year limit.
Pollard and his lawyers are challenging the conditions of his parole in a federal court in New York, calling them "unreasonable and unlawful," according to a statement released Friday.
His lawyers argue the Parole Commission has "imposed onerous and oppressive conditions of parole" including wearing an ankle monitor. Pollard has secured a job in the finance department of an investment firm in New York. The attorneys argue that the required "unfettered monitoring and inspection of his computers as well as those of any employer who chooses to hire him" is unfair.
Pollard's lawyers are asking the court to vacate those conditions of his parole.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that Pollard's ex-wife Anne Pollard intends to sue the Israeli government and a number of senior Israeli officials, according to an INN report. Her lawyers assert that the defendants "caused her injustice and slandered her."
Anne Pollard is demanding that the government recognize her as a former worker for the Israeli security services, and for damaged accrued over the years. She was convicted along with her then-husband and sentenced to five years in prison, then was released on parole for another year.
Speaking with Arutz Sheva, Anne expressed her continued disappointment in the Jewish state: "No one in the Israeli government lifted a finger to help me leave one day early from my sentence." She also said that she was "very, very ill in prison," but was not given any clemency for her health issues.
Jonathan filed for divorce after she left jail, claiming that he expected to spend the rest of his life in prison. Once her parole ended, Anne made aliyah.
"The Jewish people welcome him"
Politicians welcomed Pollard's release Friday.
"The Jewish people welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said. "As someone who brought up the issue many years with the US President, I have longed for this day."
"After three long and difficult decades, Jonathan will finally, finally be reunited with his family," Netanyahu continued. "I wish Jonathan that this Shabbat give him happiness and quiet, and that it should continue for the rest of his life."
Simultaneously, two politicians on opposite sides of Israel's political spectrum - Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett and Opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman Yitzhak Herzog - issued the same exact message: Baruch Matir Asurim, "Blessed be the One who frees prisoners," a blessing from the morning service said daily.
The Knesset Caucus for Jonathan Pollard noted in the hours after the release that they would not stop working on his behalf, and that the next goal is to demand that any restrictions on him be lifted in accordance with his basic rights.
While MKs have continued to release responses, Netanyahu has reportedly asked ministers not to conduct interviews with the media over Pollard's release.