Congressional Democrats and Republicans are joining forces for the first time in an effort to secure Jonathan Pollard’s release.
A bipartisan letter is circulating in the House of Representatives soliciting signatures on a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served.
“What Mr. Pollard did was wrong. He broke the law and deserved to be punished for his crime,” the letter to Obama reads. “Mr. Pollard has now served more than 25 years in prison … There is no doubt that he has paid a heavy price, and, from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence, we believe he has been imprisoned long enough.”
The letter came as Israeli President Shimon Peres visited the U.S. to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on June 13. Peres, carrying a petition signed by some 70,000 Israelis, said he was going to ask Obama during a private meeting to consider granting clemency to Pollard on humanitarian grounds.
“Our position [denying clemency to Pollard] has not changed and will not change today,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said just before that meeting. “I would simply remind you that Mr. Pollard was convicted of extremely serious crimes.”
Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy analyst, has been serving a life sentence for spying for Israel. He has been in ill health and was hospitalized several times in recent months. He has been at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina since 1986. — jta