Jonathan Jay Pollard, born in 1954 in Texas was a United States Naval civilian intelligence analyst who was indicted and convicted of spying for Israel in 1986.
Pollard – a US citizen – waived his right to a trial by jury, pleaded guilty and was convicted on one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government. He never faced treason charges and was sentenced to life in prison, without possibility of parole.
His wife at the time, Anne, was convicted of abating a spy and sentenced to five years in jail.
Pollard, who has a Bachelor's Degree in history and philosophy and a Masters in law and diplomatic relations, applied to be a CIA agent in 1977, but was turned down after a mandatory polygraph test indicated he had "questionable credibility." In 1979 he joined the US Navy and was stationed as an intelligence analyst in Maryland. In 1984 was transferred to a Washington-based counterterrorism analysis unit.
Later that year, after a meeting with an Aviam Sela, an Israeli Air Force officer stationed in Washington as the military attaché, he was contacted – and recruited – by the Bureau of Scientific Relations, which was in fact was an one of the Mossad's intelligence bodies, headed by nowadays-head of the Pensioners Party, Rafi Eitan.
Pollard's handler was reportedly the New York-based Israeli scientific attaché. Pollard's spying for Israel lasted just one year, during which – and according to US intelligence assessments – he transferred numerous sensitive materials to Israel, including copies of the Radio-Signal Notations, a 10-volume manual detailing America's global electronic surveillance network. Pollard and his wife reportedly received several tens of thousands of dollars in return.
In October of 1985, Pollard's navy supervisors became suspicious of his actins and put him and his wife under surveillance. In late November of 1985, the pollard's home was raided by the FBI. The two fled to the Israeli Embassy on Washington seeking asylum, but the embassy refused to let them into the building and they were subsequently arrested by the FBI.
Pollards would later claim that during his work he was exposed to classified information pivotal to Israel's security, and that he decided to bring the information to Israel's attention only after realizing the officials in the US National Security Agency were deliberately withholding it. He has always maintained his actions were motivated by patriotism and not by greed.
The Israeli government has always categorically denied having Pollard spy on the US, or having any knowledge of his actions prior to his arrest. The unveiling of the Pollard affair was said to severely damage the relations between the two countries; as well as cause serious concerns in the Jewish community in the States, which fear bouts of anti-Semitism and the persecution of the community as a whole.
The Israeli government later published an official State apology and followed by naming to governmental commissions of inquiry – the Zur-Rotenstreich commission and the Even Commission – to thoroughly investigate the Israeli angles of the Pollard affair. Both inquires came up with similar conclusions, indicating mostly that the government bureaus in charge with supervising the Bureau of Scientific Relations were not vigilant enough in their actions.
In late December 1985, both the US and Israel announced the case officially closed.
Anne Pollard was released from prison in 1990, divorced Jonathan and moved back to Israel.
In 1993 Pollard remarried, this time to Esther, who became the leading advocate for his release.
Having denied any involvement in his actions, the Israeli government s refused to push for his release. That policy changed in the mid-1990s, mainly due to a very public fight by his family and several public figures. As part of the campaign, Pollard began claiming he was abandoned by those who recruited him and later changed his name from "Jonathan" to "Yonatan". He was granted Israeli citizenship in 1996.
In 1998, Israel admitted to recruiting Pollard and having him spy on its behalf. Israel has filed several parole petitions on behalf of Pollard with the US administration since 1998. All petitions were denied.
Over the years, Pollard has filed several appeals for a new trial on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. His latest appeal was filed with the US Supreme Court in 2006 and was denied.
Theoretically, Pollard is scheduled to be released for prison at the end of his 30-year sentence – on November 2015.