Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted for spying for Israel, was released from prison Friday morning, after 30 years, the Israeli prime minister said in a statement.
Pollard was arrested in 1985 and two years later was sentenced to life in prison for passing thousands of classified documents to Israel when he was a U.S. Naval intelligence officer. He spent the past 30 years in a federal prison in North Carolina.
“The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “As someone who raised Jonathan’s case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come. After three long and difficult decades, Jonathan has been reunited with his family.”
Pollard was not immediately released to Israel, as he desired, according to the New York Times. Doing so would require a waiver of federal parole rules. Pollard’s lawyers had previously said in a statement that parole rules mandate he remain in the United States for five years. President Obama has the power to amend that rule and allow him to return to Israel.