Spy-Swap Proposal With Russia, U.S. Would Free Pollard

The Jerusalem Post - April 14, 1995

Israel has proposed a three-way spy swap with the U.S. and Russia that would free Jonathan Pollard, an official said yesterday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed a report in Ha'aretz that said Israel has offered to free Marcus Klingberg, an Israeli convicted in 1983 of spying for the former Soviet Union and jailed for 18 years.

In turn, Russia would release unnamed American agents and the U.S. would free Pollard, Ha'aretz said.

The report did not say Russia or the U.S. had agreed, and embassies for both countries uin Israel declined comments.

Pollard, 40, admitted passing Israel secrets from 1984 until his arrest in November 1985 and is serving a life sentence.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in an interview with Ha'aretz, confirmed that Russia approached Israel with a request for the release of Klingberg, a professor who headed Israel's Nes Ziona biological research center and is now 78 and in failing health.

"There were informal requests, maybe here and there formal ones," Rabin was quoted as saying.

Rabin refused comment on the spy swap report, telling Israel Radio: "I don't know about such a deal." The Israeli official said the proposal was raised by Israel during the recent visit of Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, who met with Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

Ha'aretz said that Israel insists any release of Klingberg come as part of a package that included freedom for Pollard.

Ha'aretz said that Elyakim Rubinstein, the Defense Ministry's legal adviser, was in Washington this week to discuss the possible release of Pollard with senior American officials.

Rubinstein was expected to return yesterday.

Klingberg's former attorney, Amnon Zichroni, told Israel Radio he believed the report was true.

He said Klingberg was elderly and sick and no longer posed a security risk for Israel. "The big question is if there is any willingness on Clinton's part to release Pollard," he told Army radio.

Zichroni said the involvement of senior government officials signaled a change in the attitudes of Israel and Russia regarding spies, since "in the past, countries were not willing to take responsibility for people who worked for them as spies."