Pollard affair comes to an end: Trump pardons Aviem Sella

Rafi Eitan passed away, Pollard was allowed to come to Israel, and Trump decided to pardon Lt. Col (ret.) Aviem Sella. Thus the espionage affair has ended

Photo: Hadar Zadka Hazan

Just before leaving the White House, Donald Trump pardoned 143 people including Lt. Col. (ret.) Aviem Sella, a former IAF fighter pilot and senior commander who was one of the handlers of Jonathan Pollard in the US in 1983-1984. 

Sella, who was considered to be an ace in the IAF, served in senior positions, commanded squadrons and bases, and was one of the planners of the attack on the nuclear reactor in Baghdad. After the Lebanon war Sella went to study in the US where he met Pollard and became his handler, and transferred the materials from Pollard, who was a US Navy intelligence analyst, to the Defense Ministry's Bureau of Scientific Relations. Sella was a candidate for commander of the IAF, but he was withdrawn from consideration due to American pressure.       

The request for a presidential pardon was supported by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, and Dr. Miriam Adelson, the widow of Sheldon Adelson. In the request for the pardon, it was said that the State of Israel has issued a full and unequivocal apology, and has requested the pardon "in order to close this unfortunate chapter in U.S.-Israel relations".

Trump pardoned people who were convicted or indicted. The most senior among them is Steve Bannon, who was one of Trump's senior advisers at the beginning of his presidency. Also included were several advisors connected to suspected Russian involvement in the US presidential elections.