Pollard wins parole, release date in November

Well, that didn’t take long, did it? Just a few days after the Wall Street Journal reported that the US would free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard as a sop to the Israelis angry over the Iran deal, the parole board approved Pollard’s release. The board wants everyone to know that this has nothing to do with the Iran deal. No, no, no. This is all just a really odd coincidence:

A federal parole panel has granted parole to Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, with a planned release in November, his attorneys said Tuesday.

The announcement said the decision by the parole commission was unanimous and wasn’t in any way related to U.S. negotiations with Iran.

Hey, want to hear another coincidence? The US government, which has adamantly refused to release Pollard to the Israelis up to now, didn’t put up any opposition to release with the parole board. The WSJ also notes that the parole hearing turns out to be … quite unusual. As it turns out, he wasn’t due for consideration for another 14 years, but then four weeks ago, something changed:

At Mr. Pollard’s first parole hearing, which was held a year ago, he was denied parole. At that time, his lawyers said, the parole commission indicated it would reconsider the matter at the two-thirds mark of his full sentence, which they considered to be 45 years.

His lawyers spent the next year trying to convince Justice Department officials that Mr. Pollard posed no threat of committing further crimes if released. They also highlighted his record as an exemplary inmate in prison.

Mr. Pollard’s lawyers said they were notified on July 1 that the Justice Department wouldn’t oppose his release. A new parole hearing was held on July 7 at the Butner, N.C., prison where Mr. Pollard is being held. As a result of that meeting, the parole commission unanimously voted to grant him parole.

July 1, huh? Where have we heard that date before? Oh, yes — it was the day after the first deadline to reach an agreement with Iran. The date of the hearing, July 7th, came one week before the deal was reached. And isn’t it odd that the parole board managed to get together for a new hearing in six days for a prisoner who wasn’t due for reconsideration until 2029?

These are all just coincidences, surely.

According to the WSJ’s report, the terms of parole will keep Pollard in the US for another five years under the supervision of the federal government. That’s not good enough for Pollard’s attorneys, who say they will press Barack Obama to commute the sentence, free Pollard immediately, and let him leave the US for Israel. Maybe they’d better think twice about pressing their luck before their string of coincidences come to an end.