The Parole Board of the US Justice Department has rejected longtime prisoner Jonathan Pollard's request to be conditionally released, Channel 2 reports Wednesday.
Jonathan Pollard has recently been the subject of a high-profile campaign for his release. November 21 will mark his thirtieth year of incarceration in a US jail for passing classified security-related information from America to Israel. He was arrested by FBI agents in 1985 and has been held ever since, including eight years in solitary confinement.
Pollard has been suffering from poor health over the past year, and the conditions in which he is being held are allegedly dire, with his basic needs barely being met.
The argument has been made that Pollard was arrested on charges far less serious than those that landed other spies in jail, yet those spies served a few years's jail time at most, critics noted, slamming the US for "hypocrisy."
Several top US officials, including Former Deputy National Security adviser Elliott Abrams, US Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Jonathan Pollard affair Lawrence Korb, and former CIA chief James Woolsey, have also called for Pollard to be released.
Several senior senators have opposed freeing the longtime captive, despite the sharp criticism of Israeli politicians, and even top American officials over the US's harsh treatment of the case.
Pollard has been described multiple times as a "hostage" of the US, a notion which has ramped up criticism against the White House earlier this year. Outrage has simmered further after a reported deal to release Pollard before the Passover holiday in April never materialized.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, similarly, promised in September to campaign for Pollard's release during his meetings with Obama, but there has so far been no news of a response.
After the litany of reports suggesting that the US is adamant about keeping Pollard in prison, Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) has responded Wednesday night, saying that the rejection crosses a line.
"The US government's ongoing abuse is bordering on evil," Ariel fired. "This is an explicit violation of the Clinton Administration's promise to ensure his release."
"The Prime Minister must strongly demand [Pollard's] immediate release," Ariel continued, "as the [US] government has done for even enemy spies dangerous to the state."