Ambassador says US merciful in not executing Pollard

Wife says ambassador's claims are "malicious" "lies and slander"

AP and Etgar Lefkovits, The Jerusalem Post - May 21, 2007

The US ambassador to Israel on Monday said it is unlikely that convicted Pentagon spy Jonathan Pollard will ever be released, saying the fact that he has not been executed should be seen as an act of clemency by Washington.

Responding to audience questions during an academic conference, Ambassador Richard Jones said Pollard's crimes appear especially heinous to many Americans because he was caught spying for a friendly power.

"It came out in the trial very clearly, Jonathan Pollard took money for what he did, he sold out his country," Jones said in comments at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv. "The fact that he wasn't executed is the mercy that Jonathan Pollard will receive."

"This is a very emotional issue in the United States," Jones said. "I know he was helping a friend, but that's what makes it even more emotional for Americans - if a friend would cooperate in aiding and abetting someone who is committing treason against his own country." The wife of the imprisoned spy decried the Ambassador's remarks against her husband as "malicious incitement" and "gross slander," and urged the premier to send the US Ambassador home for his "lies and slander."

"Jones's declaration that Pollard 'got off easy' because he deserved to be shot is wantonly malicious, especially since he know that Jonathan did not commit treason which is the only crime which carries a death penalty," Esther Pollard said in a written response. "In point of fact, Jonathan was charged with the least serious of the espionage statues: one count of passing classified information to an ally. The median sentence for this offense is 2 to 4 years," she added.

Pollard said that Jones's claim that her husband took money and sold out his country is also baseless. "Jonathan's indictment specifies that he was not charged with harming the United States, and his sentencing transcript clearly shows that the court recognized this fact. Consequently the court did not impose a monetary fine as it would have if he had spied for money. Most important of all, Israel formally admitted in 1998 that Jonathan Pollard was a bona fide Israeli agent. The formal recognition of Jonathan as an Israeli agent puts the lie to any claims that Jonathan spied out of mercenary motives," she said.

Pollard's wife said that Jones's claim that the US is acting within standard international norms with regard to the Pollard case is "laughable," noting that no one in the history of the United States has ever gotten a life sentence for spying for an ally.

She added that former US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross states in his book 'The Missing Peace' that Pollard continues to be held by the US as a bargaining chip against Israel.

Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy, gave military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty at his trial [J4JP: Pollard was sentenced without trial, on the basis of a plea agreement which he honored and the US abrogated.] He is serving a life sentence in a US federal prison.

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