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Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard to be released in November

Last Updated Jul 28, 2015 2:17 PM EDT

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard has been granted parole and will be released in November, the U.S. government confirmed Tuesday to CBS News.

His release is scheduled for November 20, 30 years after he was arrested for selling classified information to Israel. He will eligible for mandatory parole at that point.

At the Aspen Security forum over the weekend, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that Pollard received a life sentence 30 years ago, but the law at the time provided for mandatory parole after 30 years absent any other violations.

"He is one of the few that is still a prisoner under the older set of sentencing laws," Lynch said. "A life sentence now is in fact a life sentence."

Pollard, who was a Navy Investigative Service analyst, was arrested in November 1985 when he was attempting to gain asylum at Israel's embassy in Washington. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in 1987. His arrest has divided public opinion. Pollard supporters argued he received too harsh a punishment since he was spying for an ally, while critics said he endangered national security.

Among the most damaging documents he stole: a top secret manual that listed every communications circuit in the world monitored by U.S. intelligence and used for its own correspondence, CBS News reported.

The manual let Israel identify some of America's covert agents. Pollard claimed his motice was his love of Israel. U.S. officials said he did it for the money, and that he also gave classified information to Pakistan and South Africa.

In a statement, the Justice Department said the agency "has always maintained that Jonathan Pollard should serve his full sentence for the serious crimes he committed, which in this case is a 30-year sentence, as mandated by statute, ending Nov. 21, 2015."

Lynch is among the administration officials who have denied that his release is meant to appease Israeli anger over the nuclear deal with Iran.

"It would have been extremely far thinking of people 30 years ago to sentence Mr. Pollard and set this mandatory release date to coincide with the Iran deal and if they were able to pull that off, I'd be quite impressed," Lynch said. "This really is an operation of law that would have operated regardless of what was going on in other foreign policy circles."