Sharon to Ask Bush to Release Pollard
Laurie Copans - Associated Press - March 12, 2001
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Sunday he would ask President Bush to release a convicted Israeli spy when the two leaders meet next week.
Jonathan Pollard, a former civilian analyst for the U.S. Navy, is serving a
life sentence at a federal prison in Butner, N.C. He was convicted in 1985 of spying for Israel.
"I think that it will be very, very important if Jonathan Pollard will be freed after so many years in prison," Sharon told CNN in an interview Sunday.
Sharon and Bush will meet March 20 in Washington for the first time since taking their respective offices. When asked if he will use the opportunity to seek Pollard's release, Sharon said "I'll do that."
A spokesman for Sharon, Raanan Gissin, said that the agenda of the Sharon-Bush meeting had not been finalized, but "no doubt this is one of the issues that would be on the agenda."
"It's a moral obligation to fight for someone who served the state of Israel," Gissin said.
It was a "definite mistake" for Israel to recruit Pollard, Gissin said. "But it's time to put things behind us and let him go after he served for so long."
The Pollard case raises strong feelings of loyalty to the state in Israel, especially among right-wingers. Since nationalists helped sweep Sharon to a landslide victory over Ehud Barak in Feb. 6 elections, the premier is expected to push the United States to release Pollard.
Barak repeatedly asked President Clinton to free Pollard, who was convicted of espionage for giving Israel tens of thousands of top-secret documents. [J4JP Note: Not true! See Facts Page numbers 20 and 21 which debunk this lie.]
Clinton reportedly considered releasing Pollard on two occasions as part of Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in an effort to encourage the Israeli public to accept painful concessions to the Palestinians.
A 1998 request for Pollard's release nearly derailed a U.S.-brokered accord when then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly linked his agreement to the deal with clemency for Pollard. [J4JP Note: Former President Clinton committed to Jonathan Pollard's release as a integral part of the Wye Accords, and then reneged at the last moment. See Wye Page
for details.] The Clinton administration considered his release again when the president issued pardons before leaving office in January, but Pollard was not on the list.
Israel has acknowledged that Pollard was its agent and every Israeli prime minister has asked the United States to release him.