JERUSALEM (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday granted a full pardon to Aviem Sella, the handler of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, as part of the outgoing president’s spree of clemency actions in his last hours in office.
Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst, sold military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon in the 1980s. Sella, a retired Israeli air force officer, enlisted Pollard to spy for Israel and fled the United States after Pollard was arrested in 1985. Sella was charged in absentia on three espionage counts, but was not extradited to the U.S. from Israel.
The Pollard case severely strained relations between Israel and the U.S.
The White House said in a statement that Sella’s request for clemency received backing from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, the American ambassador to Israel, and Miriam Adelson, the widow of Republican megadonor and Trump supporter Sheldon Adelson who died last week.