Netanyahu asks Clinton to free Pollard
December 13, 1998 - Laurence McQuillan
JERUSALEM, (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu said on Sunday that Jonathan Pollard, jailed by the
United States for spying for Israel, had acted inexcusably but
asked U.S. President Bill Clinton to free him anyway.
Clinton, on a Middle East peace-saving mission, said he
expected to make a decision on Netanyahu's request to free
Pollard -- who has been in prison for
13 years -- after
receiving recommendations by January for and against the idea.
Pollard, an ex-U.S. navy analyst, was sentenced to life in
prison for passing secrets to Israel. He has since obtained
Israeli citizenship and the Israeli government, which at first
called him part of a rogue operation, has since admitted running him as a spy.
Pollard became a last-minute stumbling block in the Middle
East peace accord reached in the United States in October by
Clinton, Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Clinton agreed to review the case.
"Jonathan Pollard did something bad and inexcusable. He
spied in the United States. He collected information on behalf
of the Israeli government," Netanyahu told reporters at a joint
"All I have appealed to President Clinton for is merely a
humanitarian appeal. It is not based on exonerating Mr Pollard.
There is no exoneration for it. It is mainly that he has been
virtually in solitary confinement for 13 years. It's a very,
very heavy sentence.
"Since he was sent by us on a mistaken mission, not to work
against the United States but nevertheless to break the laws of
the United States, we hope that with a humanitarian appeal a way will be found to release him," Netanyahu said.
"It is not political. It is not to exonerate him. It is
merely to end a very, very sorry case that has afflicted him and the people of Israel."
In October, Pollard said he was rotting in jail because
Netanyahu had failed to secure his release at the peace summit.
Seven former U.S. defence secretaries have urged Clinton to
reject Israel's appeal to release Pollard, saying to give
Pollard clemency would encourage U.S. enemies.
Clinton promised to get the opinions from both sides of the
issue and to decide promptly.
"We have instituted this review, which as I said is
unprecedented. We are giving everyone time to present their
comments and I will get comments on both sides of the issue,
evaluate it and make a decision," Clinton told reporters.
But Pollard's wife Esther Pollard, responding to Clintons
remarks, said the U.S. administration had yet to solicit "an
unbiased objective review of the facts".
Letter to the Jerusalem Post
Letter To President Clinton from Pollard's Attorney