Libai and Reno Discuss Pollard, Extradition Treaty
Hillel Kuttler - The Jerusalem Post - December 2, 1993
Justice Minister David Liba'i discussed the case of Jonathan Pollard with US
Attorney General Janet Reno this week, but received no hint of what
recommendations she would make to President Bill Clinton on the matter.
In an hour-long meeting at the Justice Department late on Tuesday, Liba'i
presented Israel's request that Pollard be freed and the convicted spy's life
sentence be commuted to time served.
"We released spies. Now we have released hundreds, maybe thousands of
Palestinians who earned punishment by harming Israel's security. In this
atmosphere, it's hard for the Israeli public to understand Israel's release
[of the Palestinian prisoners], but that when it requests the release of one
person from the US, it would be refused," Liba'i told Israeli journalists
While he told Reno he understood Pollard's "harsh punishment," Liba'i stated
that at the same time, the US "at some point reduces sentences due to
humanitarian or political reasons."
Reno took copious notes on each point Liba'i made, he said, and promised she
would weigh all arguments heavily when she prepares her recommendation for
The Justice Department's consideration of Pollard's early release is now in
the hands of Deputy Attorney-General Philip B. Heymann, who is expected to
pass his recommendation to Reno soon.
"There is no timetable, but obviously this is the time of year when such
matters are reviewed," the department's spokesman, Carl Stern, told The
Jerusalem Post yesterday, adding that "I wouldn't expect it to reach the
attorney-general this week."
In their meeting, Liba'i also suggested that Israel might agree to amend its
laws to allow for Israeli citizens to stand trial in the US for crimes
committed there. However, it would only be considered if the US would allow
the accused, if found guilty, to serve his sentence in Israel if he so
requests, Liba'i said.
The US has been seeking changes to a 1978 Israeli law prohibiting the
extradition from Israel of an Israeli citizen for a crime committed on foreign
soil. That law runs counter to paragraph four of the countries' extradition
treaty, stating that neither country could refuse an extradition request from
The disputed law did not apply in the cases of Robert and Rochelle Manning,
because they acquired Israeli citizenship after the California murder for
which the US requested their extradition.
In an unrelated matter, the deputy attorney-general for the criminal division,
Mark Richard, will visit Israel next week to discuss agreements on exchanging
evidence for US criminal trials.
In a subsequent meeting with Jonathan Pollard's wife, Esther, in Jerusalem early in 1994, Justice Minister Libai described his meeting with Attorney General Janet Reno. Libai said he had pleaded with Reno for Pollard's release at that meeting. He said that he had presented the Attorney General with the facts and that it is well known that Jonathan did not do the damage that the Americans allege. Libai spoke to Mrs. Pollard of his frustration with Reno's cold and unreasonable attitude to the Pollard issue and said that he could not comprehend her "hard heart". Libai added that he did not understand what the Americans wanted to prove by treating her husband's case in this manner.