Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is to be released from US prison on Friday after serving 30 years.
Attempts to get Pollard freed over the years have failed, as have requests to ease the terms of his release. He is to be released by the federal parole board but remain under strict conditions. Among other things, Pollard will be banned from flying to Israel and forbidden from accessing the internet.
Pollard, 61, will also have to live and work in New York and regularly report to a parole officer. Any request to leave the area where he lives would require approval from the parole officer, with more substantial requests requiring special approval from the parole board.
Pollard spent the first seven years after his arrest in an Illinois jail before being transferred to a North Carolina prison. Prisoners are released daily from the facility at 6am (1pm Israel time), and Pollard is expected to be released in the early morning. However, authorities refused to provide information regarding the precise time of his release.
The first people Pollard is expected to meet after his release are his wife Esther and his lawyer, who will likely meet him North Carolina, where the prison is, or in New York, where is supposed to live as part of his parole conditions.
Pollard's attorneys plan to keep a low profile because of concern that a media circus would taint efforts to convince the parole board to shorten the length of time he must abide by the strict conditions – and perhaps to permit him to leave the US and come to Israel.
"Esther is so excited I can't describe it," said a source closed to the Pollards. "This will be the first time in 30 years that Jonathan can sit at the Sabbath meal table and say Kiddush over the wine. She prepared dishes he hasn't seen since he was 30."
Pollard's former wife Anne also arrived in the US in the hopes of seeing him. Anne was arrested with Jonathan in November 1985 at the entrance to the Israeli Embassy in Washington, where they hoped in vain to find asylum.
Pollard confessed to passing classified information to a friendly nation as part of a plea bargain, but the judge rejected it and sentenced him to a life sentence, the maximum allowed.
It was reported Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked the US to allow Pollard to return immediately to Israel upon his release.
According to the reports, Netanyahu has been lobbying Washington to let Pollard travel to Israel instead of completing his five years' parole in the United States. A spokesman for Netanyahu would not confirm the report.