Lynch: Iran deal plays no part in spy’s release
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch closed out the Aspen Security Forum on Saturday emphasizing that the release of Jonathan Pollard has nothing to do with the Iran agreement.
Pollard, an American who spied for Israel, is set to be eligible for parole in November, upon which time he will be released from incarceration, Justice Department officials said Friday.
Lynch, interviewed by NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, said the Iran deal has not influenced Pollard’s pending release. Some observers have offered it is being done to assuage Israel in the wake of the Iran agreement.
Mitchell asked if that was the case.
Lynch, drawing laughs from the audience at the Greenwald Pavilion on the Aspen Institute campus, said it would be “extremely far-thinking of people 30 years ago to set this mandatory release date to coincide” with the Iran deal.
Israel has long contended Pollard’s life sentence for espionage was too severe. Pollard was convicted in 1987 of providing U.S. classified military information to Israel.
Rather, Lynch said Pollard’s release comes because he is eligible for parole and sentencing laws also have changed over the past 15 to 20 years.
Earlier in the day, Sen. John McCain suggested Pollard could be up for early release to appease Israel, which, in interviewer Lesley Stahl’s words, is “livid” about the Iran agreement
“It may be,” McCain said. “I would regret that if that’s the reason. It may be.”
He added that “it’s certainly an allegation that may have substance.”
McCain said he favors Pollard’s release.
“It’s not an easy call,” he said. “He did betray the United States of America, and that would be seen as something we all condemn, including the Israelis. But I think it’s time.”
Lynch, the first black woman to be attorney general, was sworn in April 27. She had been a federal prosecutor in New York.
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