B'nai B'rith Urges Release Of Jonathan Pollard Before Passover

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Contact: Eric Rozenman
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B'nai B'rith Urges Release Of Jonathan Pollard Before Passover

Washington, D.C. (March 19, 2002)

- Admitted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard should be released "in the spirit of the upcoming holiday of Passover," B'nai B'rith International President Richard D. Heideman said today. Heideman, in Geneva for the United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting, has written to President George W. Bush requesting Pollard's release on humanitarian grounds.

"Jonathan Pollard has paid his debt to society and to the United States," Heideman said. "He has been incarcerated for almost 18 years - longer by far than any other person imprisoned for the same offense, transferring classified information to a friendly nation."

Heideman called Pollard's continued imprisonment, when the average time served for the same crime is two to four years, "a violation of his human rights." The B'nai B'rith leader said Pollard's crime was "inexcusable,' and that "an example had to be made of his conduct." But Pollard, having accepted his responsibility and having been punished and "rehabilitated through incarceration," deserves "true rehabilitation with restoration of his freedom."

Heideman said that "before the 18th year of incarceration has come and passed, Pollard must be freed by the United States. In gematria [Hebrew numerology] 18 is the word 'chai,' which means life. We ask that President Bush, who is committed to bringing a better life to all in America, restore the life of Jonathan Pollard and cause him to be freed now, as we approach the Passover season."

Passover, which marks the liberation of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt, begins at sundown on Wednesday, March 27.

Pollard, a former U.S. Navy civilian analyst arrested in 1985 for passing classified information to Israel, was granted Israeli citizenship several years ago. A three-member delegation from the Knesset (Israel's parliament) reportedly will be visiting members of Congress shortly to advocate his release.

B'nai B'rith International - with members in 58 countries - including the United States and Israel - is the world's best-known Jewish human rights, community service, and humanitarian organization.

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