American Asks Israel to Admit He Spied

April 30, 1997

JERUSALEM, April 30 -- American Jonathan Pollard, fighting for his freedom from a life sentence in the United States, asked a court on Wednesday to order Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to admit Pollard spied for Israel.

Pollard, a former U.S. naval intelligence officer caught passing information on Arab countries to the Jewish state in 1985, has repeatedly asked Israel to work for his release but it has never admitted to using him as a spy.

"We want to know why the government of Israel does not state clearly Jonathan Pollard was an agent of the state of Israel," lawyer Larry Dubb, representing Pollard in the appeal to the High Court of Justice, told Israel Radio.

Pollard pleaded guilty in 1986 to spying for Israel and got the maximum sentence in a case that strained U.S.-Israeli relations.

Netanyahu's office issued a statement in reaction to the court appeal saying the prime minister was "doing his best" to secure Pollard's release.

"On every visit of the prime minister's to Washington he raises the Pollard issue in his conversations with the U.S. administration," the statement said. "The prime minister will continue to do all he can to bring Jonathan Pollard to Israel."

Pollard, an American Jew, said he had passed information to Israel which Washington had withheld. He sought refuge from arrest at the Israeli embassy in Washington but was turned away.

U.S. presidents have denied him clemency three times. Last year Israel made Pollard a citizen in an official ceremony, saying it hoped to win his freedom and resettle him in the Jewish state.

Pollard's wife, Esther, said the fact her husband had been in jail 12 years was "a badge of shame" for the Israeli government. She said successive Israeli governments had promised to work for his freedom but had done nothing.

"The Americans already know he is an Israeli agent," she told Israel Radio. "Why do the Israelis continue to deny it?"

Dubb said Pollard backed his claim to have worked for Israel with the original U.S. charge sheet to which he admitted guilt.

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