Pollard Speaks Out On Jordanian Spy Swap

October 28, 1997 - Gwen Ackerman - Associated Press

Convicted U.S. spy Jonathan Pollard complained that while Israel quickly brought home agents captured in Jordan after a botched assassination attempt, he has been left in an American jail for 13 years.

Pollard's wife, Esther, played a tape-recorded telephone conversation with her husband for The Associated Press today, a day before the Israeli Supreme Court was to discuss Pollard's petition that Israel recognize him as an agent acting on its behalf.

Israeli leaders have maintained that Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, spied on the United States without official sanction. Pollard, 43, is serving a life sentence for passing U.S. military secrets to Israel and has been jailed in the United States since 1985.

In the taped conversation, Pollard referred to Israel's bungled assassination attempt on Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal in the Jordanian capital of Amman last month. Two Israeli agents were captured by Jordanian security forces, but were released in a swap in which Israel freed the Hamas founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, and dozens of other prisoners.

"Clearly this Mashaal affair shows that the government knows how to get its agents out," Pollard told his wife.

"It got them out in a couple of days, these guys, these two agents. They didn't have to rot for years in a foreign prison,'' Pollard said.

President Clinton rejected a clemency plea by Pollard in 1996, citing the enormity of his crime, his lack of remorse and the damage he caused to U.S. security.*

Pollard is being held in the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C.

Mrs. Pollard said she also is worried about her husband's health. He suffers from acute arthritis, she said, and was developing glaucoma as well as respiratory problems.

"I'm fighting for my husband's life," Mrs. Pollard said.

Mrs. Pollard believes that if the Supreme Court rules Israel must accept responsibility for Pollard's spying, it will be easier to negotiate her husband's release.

The petition also asks the court to compel the government to release classified documents Mrs. Pollard says prove her husband's spying was overseen at the highest level in Israel.

In his tape, Pollard also accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of betraying a pre-election promise to prod the Americans to win his freedom. Instead, Pollard said that during the prime minister's visits to Washington, Netanyahu "made sure that my name wasn't even mentioned ... a total, utter betrayal."

* Note: Mr. Clinton's statement above is devoid of substance. He made this statement based upon the advice of those agencies that have a vested interest in prolonging this travesty of justice.

See also:

  • Why Jonathan Pollard Got Life
  • The Facts of the Pollard Case
  • Comparative Sentence Chart
  • Return to Israeli Court Case page