B'nai Brith Media Release

For Immediate Release     Contact: Eric Rozenman
(202) 857-6646


Washington, D.C. (December 30, 1998) -- B'nai B'rith International has reiterated its recommendation that admitted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard be granted presidential clemency and called on President Clinton to release him from prison on humanitarian grounds after a fair review of his case.

In a letter sent to the White House today, B'nai B'rith International President Richard D. Heideman, immediate past president Tommy B. Baer, and past president Seymour D. Reich, urged President Clinton not to be swayed by reiterated but unsubstantiated allegations against Pollard.

The three had written to Clinton only twelve days earlier, taking note of White House counsel Charles F. C. Ruff's reported call for senior administration officials to supply by January 11 information bearing on Pollard's possible release. Their initial letter noted that although opponents of clemency for Pollard "have labeled him a traitor ... he was not charged with or convicted of treason .... He was charged with and pleaded guilty to one count of conveying classified information to Israel, a U.S. ally in the Middle East. The average time served for people convicted of spying for a friendly nation is two to four years. However, Pollard is now in his fourteenth year of imprisonment."

In their letter today to President Clinton, Heideman, Baer and Reich write that they returned to the matter so quickly because of a December 24 U.S.A. Today story headlined "U.S. ready to reject spy plea; Pollard wants to review case." The B'nai B'rith International leaders fear that "the story implies that the review is to be pro forma, and will not necessarily reflect Mr. Ruff's call for additional or new information, let alone the request of Pollard's attorney to be able to rebut some of the old arguments against his client."

The trio add that they are disturbed that "leaked stories and planted commentaries" reiterating publicly unsubstantiated claims against Pollard apparently are "part of a campaign to preempt presidential reconsideration of Pollard's continued imprisonment."

President Clinton promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would review the possibility of clemency in Pollard's case during October negotiations with the Palestinian Authority over the Wye River Memorandum.

B'nai B'rith International has been on record for Pollard's release for several years, noting that while Pollard admitted his crime and deserved punishment, the last-minute life sentence -- contrary to a plea understanding reached previously -- seems more like vengeance than justice.

B'nai B'rith, with members in 57 countries, is the world's best-known Jewish humanitarian, human rights, philanthropic and community action organization.

See Also:
  • B'nai Brith Letter to President Clinton