Page 3 Profile: Jonathan Jay Pollard, Israel's former spy in Washington DC


An Israeli spy?

Pollard grew up in Texas but felt he had a "racial obligation" to Israel. The 58-year-old's "obligation" was his undoing, and he has spent the past 25 years in a variety of US prisons after pleading guilty to spying for Israel while working as a civil intelligence operative. Pollard was dubbed "the Hunting Horse" by his Israeli handlers because he would track down information on request so effectively that they could "ride" the promotional ladder.

How was he found out?

Thousands of pages of sensitive information found their way into Israeli hands via Pollard's treachery, and leaks of that magnitude are never going to stay secret for long. His colleagues noticed that he was sifting through classified documents beyond his brief.

Why is he back in the news?

Many Israelis hope that Barack Obama, who is visiting Israel this week, will be persuaded to release Pollard. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres will raise Pollard's continued imprisonment with the US President, using as their ammunition a petition signed by 175,000 Israelis.

Do they have any hope of convincing him?

Mr Obama told Israeli TV: "I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately." In 2011, Vice-President Joe Biden was reported in The New York Times as saying: "President Obama was considering clemency but I told him, 'Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time'." It looks unlikely that Pollard will be freed soon, but his life tariff is due to expire in 2015.