Anne Henderson-Pollard, whose husband Jonathan Jay Pollard is charged with spying for Israel, was released from jail last week after a federal judge set bond for her at a closed hearing.
Henderson-Pollard had been held at D.C. Jail without bond since her Nov. 22 arrest on a charge of possessing classified government documents. Her release came as government and defense attorneys continued negotiations aimed at avoiding a trial in the couple's sensitive and highly publicized case, according to sources familiar with the matter.
No formal plea agreement for either suspect has been reached, but Pollard, a civilian Navy counterterrorism analyst, is providing information to federal authorities, sources said. Pollard remains in custody without bond.
Sources said that Henderson-Pollard's release was a sign that the government and lawyers for the couple have not reached an impasse in their negotiations. At two court hearings in December, federal prosecutors argued that Henderson-Pollard's release would pose a threat to national security, and a U.S. magistrate and a U.S. District Court judge ordered her held without bond.
The Pollard case late last year strained relations between the United States and Israel, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, and proved to be embarrassing to the Israeli government, which formally apologized to the United States for its role in Pollard's alleged activities.
Pollard, at the time of his Nov. 21 arrest outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, told the FBI that he was paid $2,500 a month for about a year and a half by his Israeli contacts, according to court testimony.
Within days of Pollard's arrest, two Israeli diplomats implicated in the case were recalled from the United States. And Israeli officials reported later that an obscure scientific information-gathering unit linked to the Pollard case and known by its Hebrew initials, LEKEM, had been disbanded.
Two U.S. sources dismissed a report in the Jerusalem Post last week that ran under the headline "Pollard refusing to plead guilty."
"Both Israel and the U.S. are extremely concerned about Pollard's decision, since a court battle will . . . reopen newly healed wounds," the Jerusalem Post story said.
U.S. sources said that because of the possible implications in U.S.-Israeli relations the case was being handled delicately. They said there is always a possibility that a trial will result but that no final decision has been made.
Because the case is being investigated by a federal grand jury, all proceedings, including the hearing on Henderson-Pollard's release, have been closed, according to sources.
The public court file does contain an order, signed by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr., that released Henderson-Pollard on Feb. 24 on an unsecured $23,500 bond.
Normally, a defendant must be indicted within 30 days of arrest. This requirement can be waived by a defendant, or the government can ask a judge to waive the requirement. The grand jury has not returned an indictment in the case, and sources said it can be assumed that the government has obtained unspecified extensions of the indictment deadline.
Under Judge Robinson's release order, Henderson-Pollard is required to live with a brother of her husband's in the Washington area, to seek employment and to remain here except for visits to her husband, if he is not held in the metropolitan area.
Henderson-Pollard's father, Bernard Henderson, has argued that his daughter was not a spy and was being held because of her husband's alleged espionage activities.