NORTH CAROLINA - After 10,956 days behind bars in the US, convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard left his prison in North Carolina in the early hours of Friday morning.
Pollard's lawyers appealed the terms of his release in the US District Court in New York soon after he left the prison. The lawyers have appealed what they termed illegal stipulations placed on the former spy, including an ankle bracelet with 24 hour GPS monitoring, and tracking of his and his employer's computer systems. The lawyers say the conditions prevent Pollard from being hired, as no employer would agree to the tracking of their systems.
Politicians in Israel wasted no time in reacting to the release, "The people of Israel welcome Jonathan Pollard's release," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement released shortly after the news broke.
"May this Sabbath bring him much joy and peace that will continue in the years and decades ahead."
Pollard was tried and convicted of spying against the US for Israeli intelligence in 1985 and served a 30-year prison sentence despite repeated attempts by Israeli prime ministers to convince US presidents to sign off on his release.
"Over the years, we've felt Pollard's pain and felt responsibility and obligation to work for his release," said President Reuven Rivlin.
As close allies, the Pollard affair stirred significant controversy and marred relations between the US and Israel. Some said that as a friendly nation, Pollard should not have been jailed for his actions, while others cited broken laws and the betrayal of the US.
The convicted spy was let out several hours earlier than expected, in order to escape media attention.
Upon Pollard's release, Likud party MKs said they intended to push forward the "Pollard law" as early as next week, that would see government funding for all of Pollard's needs for the rest of his life.
Over the past few days, Netanyahu reportedly pushed to have Pollard released and transported directly to Israel, but American officials placed strict conditions on Pollard's freedom, including a ban from using the internet.