Barak Aide Wants "to get acquainted", not Pollard

US Says Pollard Decision Not Part of Peace Deal

The Jerusalem Post - December 21, 1999 - Janine Zacharia.


- US officials have completed a review of an Israeli request of clemency for convicted American Jewish spy Jonathan Pollard, but have made no official recommendation yet to President Bill Clinton, White House Spokesman Joe Lockhart said yesterday.

"I think they've gotten all the information. As far as I know, they have checked in all the places they need to check in. But no recommendation has gone to the President," Lockhart told reporters.

Clinton ordered a review of the case in October 1998, after then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to secure a US promise for Pollard's release as part of the Wye River accord with the Palestinians. Pollard is serving a life term for espionage.

Lockhart said he did not expect a decision on clemency to be linked to the Middle East peace Process. "I expect this to be dealt with on the merits and not as part of the overall process," he said.

Moshe Kochnovsky, appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to coordinate Israel's efforts to secure a US pardon for Pollard, met with a senior White House official and representatives of several Jewish groups last week in an effort to pave the way for his release, Lockhart said.

"As I understand it, traveling with Prime Minister Barak was his representative, who's been dealing with this issue. He had not had a chance to sit down and meet the new White House counsel. So there was session where they went through the process," Lockhart told reporters.

An Israeli official also confirmed Kochnovsky's meeting with White House counsel Beth Nolan, but said the envoy had traveled on his own and not as part of Barak's peace talks delegation.

Kochnovsky, who was appointed roughly two months ago by Barak, came to become acquainted with people involved in the case, but did not break any new ground, the Israeli official said.

Barak so far has been tight-lipped on the Pollard case, saying public diplomacy on the issue would not help Israel achieve his release.

Pollard, a former US Navy intelligence analyst, pleaded guilty to passing US military secrets to Israel in the 1980's after he was arrested in 1985. He was sentenced a year later. President Bill Clinton has twice rejected clemency for Pollard following severe opposition from the CIA.

*[JP NOTE: When Clinton wants to, he ignores the opposition as he did when he recently granted clemency to unrepentant FALN terrorists - See the FALN Page.]

Israel last year admitted that Pollard worked in its behalf. Pollard supporters have filed several appeals

*[JP Correction: Jonathan Pollard filed these appeals. See the Text of Petition]

to the Supreme Court since Barak's election saying the Prime Minister has not done enough to secure his release.
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