Middle East

Wife of convicted Israeli spy Pollard dies of COVID-19

JERUSALEM (AP) — The wife of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who championed a years-long campaign for his release from prison, died on Monday from complications of COVID-19.

Esther Pollard battled cancer in recent years and died after recently contracting the coronavirus, Israeli media reported. She was 69.

Jonathan Pollard served 30 years in federal prison for selling military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon in the 1980s. He was arrested in 1985, pleaded guilty, and was given a life sentence.

The espionage affair embarrassed Israel and tarnished its relations with the United States for years.

The two married while Pollard was incarcerated.

Pollard was released on Nov. 20, 2015, and placed on a five-year parole period. A month after his parole expired, he boarded a flight to Israel, was greeted on the tarmac by then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and obtained Israeli citizenship.

Esther Pollard accompanied her husband when he flew to Israel in December 2020.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said she was “a woman whose devotion to, and love for, Jonathan Pollard became a symbol of strength, determination and faith.”

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