PM Asked Clinton to Postpone Pollard Decision

January 20, 1999 - Batsheva Tsur - The Jerusalem Post

Despite earlier Israeli pressure on US President Bill Clinton to review the case of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has now asked Clinton to put off making his decision until the impeachment hearings are over, a source said yesterday.

Following the Wye summit, Clinton had assured Netanyahu that he would review all the material - from both advocates and opponents of Pollard's release - at this time. At the time it was not clear that the Senate impeachment hearings would be under way now.

Netanyahu felt that it would not be polite to put pressure on the US president to decide when he is under duress, the source said.

Netanyahu's spokesman Aviv Bushinsky yesterday denied that the prime minister had requested such a deferral.

"The opposite is true," he said.

"The prime minister is most grateful that President Clinton has kept his promise to review the possibility of an early release for Pollard."

Meanwhile, advocates of Pollard's release have not yet submitted their arguments to Clinton, although the US defense establishment already has recommended that the spy continue to serve his full term - life imprisonment.

An additional reason for Clinton's delaying the review decision is a pending request for a meeting with him lodged by three Jewish leaders - World Jewish Congress head Edgar Bronfman, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz and Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel - who wish to put Pollard's case before the president.

When the White House reportedly suggested that the three meet instead with Attorney-General Janet Reno - who also is due to make recommendations in the Pollard case - Bronfman was unusually piqued, the source said, and insisted on an invitation from Clinton. No date has yet been set for such a meeting.

Asked yesterday whether he had submitted arguments in Pollard's favor to the White House, Pollard's lawyer Larry Dub confirmed that he had not.

"There is no one to submit them to," he said. "We have not received any response to my December 4 letter to President Clinton or to my two subsequent letters to [White House legal counsel] Charles Ruff."

He said there was still no willingness on the part of the US to explain what "information" Pollard had passed on to Israel and what evidence there was against him.

Dub yesterday denied again that any encryption codes had been passed by his client to Israel.

"Pollard did not have access to such encryption data," Dub said. "Frequency signals manuals without encryption codes are useless."

In a letter last week to Ruff, Dub said he had pointed out that on December 18, 1998, "an ex-NSA senior cryptologic traffic analyst, David Sheldon Boone, pleaded guilty in US District court in Alexandria, Va., to having provided the Soviets with, among other things, ... a manual listing all US reconnaissance programs and signal collection systems, on or about the time that my client was sentenced."

Dub said that this "calls into question the motive of those 'government officials' who continue to lay the blame for this crime on Jonathan Pollard."

President Ezer Weizman yesterday revealed that he had written to Clinton two years ago to request clemency for Pollard. Weizman said that the initiative had come from

Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein, who was minister at the Israeli Embassy in Washington when Pollard was arrested and sought asylum there.

Weizman was speaking to reporters during a visit of British parliament members of the Conservative Friends of Israel group.

See Also:
  • Larry Dub Letters