Pollard Wants Chance To Plead His Case

December 5, 1998 - Danny Gur-arieh

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israel, has asked President Clinton for a chance to defend himself when his case comes up for a promised presidential review.

Clinton has said he promised to review Pollard's case when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked for his release during the Wye negotiations on a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal in October.

In a letter to Clinton sent Friday and obtained by Reuters, Pollard's lawyer in Israel said there were similarities between his client's case and impeachment proceedings facing Clinton.

"Just as your attorneys are now appropriately demanding the right to see the material being prepared for impeachment in order to allow you to mount an adequate defense, elementary justice and a sense of fair play dictate that the same opportunity must be afforded to Jonathan Pollard to answer his accusers," said the letter from attorney Larry Dub.

The White House said this week Clinton had asked Defense Secretary William Cohen, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Attorney General Janet Reno and CIA director George Tenet for advice by January 11 on whether to release Pollard, who is serving a life sentence.

Dub said in the letter that Clinton had sought only the opinion of authorities "whose public opposition to my client's release has been rife with slander, false allegations and gross distortions of the facts."

Clinton has twice before rejected a pardon for Pollard, an American Jew who admitted in a 1986 plea bargain that he spied for Israel.

Pollard's transfer to Israel of sensitive U.S. secrets, mainly about Arab countries, during the early 1980s remains a sore point within the U.S. defense and law enforcement community.

Dub said the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency had used the Pollard case to justify measures against Jewish security employees.

"Mr. President, as you well know, under Tenet the CIA has initiated a witch-hunt to rid the agency of Jews holding security clearances," the letter said.

Pollard's case was a last-minute hurdle to the Wye peace deal in October between Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Netanyahu called for Pollard's release just before Clinton was due to fly to Washington to announce that agreement had been reached. Pollard's wife, Esther, said later that Clinton pledged to free her husband but later reneged.

Clinton said he had promised only to review the case.

Israel has pressed the United States over the years to free Pollard, and made him an Israeli citizen in 1996.

See Also:
  • Clintons Asks the View of Top Aides On Freeing of Pollard
  • Letter To President Clinton from Pollard's Attorney