Israeli Minister to Visit Pollard

November 17, 1997 - Jack Katzenell - Associated Press

An Israeli Cabinet minister will visit Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. navy intelligence analyst who is serving a life sentence in the United States for passing military secrets to Israel.

Immigration Minister Yuli Edelstein will visit Pollard on Nov. 24 at the federal prison in Butner, N.C. "Not enough is being done for Pollard ... he has been in jail long enough," Edelstein's spokesman Yehuda Glick said Monday.

Pollard says he was an Israeli agent when he committed the espionage in the mid-1980s. Israeli leaders have maintained that Pollard acted without official Israeli sanction.

Pollard's lawyer, Larry Dub, says an Israeli acknowledgment that Pollard was an agent could clear the way for his client's release. Pollard has served 13 years of his sentence.

He said Edelstein's visit was the first step toward Israel acknowledging that Pollard was its spy.

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's wife, Esther, said she was "very pleased" by the announcement.

"It has taken a long time for an (Israeli Cabinet) minister to have the courage to show open support for Jonathan, although many of them have expressed it in private," she said in a telephone interview from her home in Toronto, Canada.

"Israel's refusal to acknowledge that Pollard was an Israeli agent has only angered the U.S. administration," she added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno approved Edelstein's visit, Glick said.