Pollard: Ministers' promoting release of Barghouti appalling

Wife of imprisoned Israeli agent slams ministers who called for Fatah leader's release as part of future prisoner swap deal. 'It's outrageous that they are now willing to fight for a terrorist who has Jewish blood on his hands,' she says.

Sharon Roffe-Ofir - YNET News - January 6, 2008

The wife of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard criticized on Sunday statements made by Israeli ministers according to which they would consider releasing jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in the framework of a future prisoner swap.

Jonathan Pollard was a civilian analyst for the American Navy. He was arrested in 1985 and indicted on one count of passing classified information to an ally, Israel.

Pollard was sentenced to an

unprecedented sentence of life

in 1987 - the usual sentence for the offense he committed is 2 to 4 years.

The Government of Israel formally recognized Jonathan Pollard as an Israeli agent in 1998, ending years of duplicity about the issue.

He is currently being held at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.

"Over the past 23 years I haven't heard even one minister call for Jonathan's release," Esther Pollard said. "It's outrageous that they are now willing to fight for a terrorist who has Jewish blood on his hands.

"I expected things to be different ahead of (US President George W.) Bush's visit to Israel and the country's 60th anniversary celebrations, but each time reality proves to me that my husband's release is not even on the agenda," she said.

'Someone would have updated me'

On Saturday, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Barghouti was "likely to be on the list" of Palestinian security prisoners freed by Israel as part of a deal to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer has also expressed his willingness to free Barghouti.

According to Esther Pollard, the government has been negligent in its handling of the affair. "The prime minister (Ehud Olmert) has said on several occasions that he was doing everything in his power to release Jonathan, but if this were truly the case, someone would talk to me and update me, as was the case with former Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Yitzhak Rabin, God rest his soul.

"They gave us a list of instructions and restricted us from speaking to the media. Today, the situation is different," she said.

Pollard said she was approached by a number of Palestinian Authority officials who told her they were assured Barghouti would be freed. Her pleas to meet with Bush during his visit to the region, which is scheduled to begin this Wednesday, have been denied.

"I expected the government would request that Jonathan be released as a gesture by the Americans. It's clear that the Israeli government prefers to abandon Jonathan and let him rot in jail. He as already served more than five times the usual sentence for the offense which he committed," she said.

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