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Butner Prisoner Almost Prevents Middle East Deal

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BUTNER — The breakthrough Middle East land-for-peace deal almost did not get done because of a man in the Triangle's own backyard - Jonathon Pollard. At the last minute, Prime Minister Netanyahu asked for the release of the convicted Israeli spy.

Pollard is currently serving a life term in the federal prison in Butner, about 20 miles north of Raleigh.

WRAL's Mark Roberts spoke exclusively with Pollard earlier this year when Israel admitted he was spy.

On Friday, May 15, 1998, four days after the government of Israel recognized Pollard as its agent, he gave his first American interview in a decade.

Pollard said that among other things, he made a big mistake.

"I don't believe that anybody in looking at my case could possibly assume that I got away with anything," he said. "I was hammered.hard. I am not a hero. I am nobody's role model."

Dressed in a khaki prison uniform and his long hair flowing to his shoulders, Pollard bears little physical resemblance to the man being whisked away in a government car - the former US intelligence clerk who passed military secrets to Israel.

Pollard said he did nothing to hurt the American people. He says he only helped the Israelis: "You can't love two countries at the same time to the same degree, just as you can't love in a sense two women, equally - one has to suffer."

Pollard said he has learned a lesson - that there is no justification for violating the trust given an intelligence officer. He said he should not have taken international intelligence into his own hands.

"But to simply go to somebody appropriate and ask for their advice, that's something I didn't do," he said. "It was a terrible mistake and I have paid a very terrible price for that mistake."

If released, Pollard says he wants to live in Israel where he has a water and energy company. In his words, I am a very ordinary person who was caught up in an extraordinary situation.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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