Pollard Release Builds In Congress

MiddleEastNewsline - November 21, 2010

WASHINGTON [MENL] -- Congress has been garnering support for the release of U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard.

House Democrats have been signing a letter that called on President Obama to release Pollard, who has served 25 years of a life sentence for relaying classified data to Israel. The letter said Pollard should be released out of humanitarian concern.

"My own hope is that if the President were to do this it would contribute to the political climate within the democracy of Israel to enhance the peace process," Rep. Barney Frank, a leading Democrat, said.

Frank, a Massachussetts Democrat who initiated the letter, said 39 Democrats have already signed the petition for Pollard's release. He said the letter was drafted in coordination with American Jewish organizations.

"My own hope is that if the president were to do this it would contribute to the political climate within the democracy of Israel to enhance the peace process," Frank said.

At a Nov. 18 news conference, Frank said House Republicans refused to sign the letter for Pollard's release. He cited fears by GOP members of an electoral backlash based on national security concerns.

"The current nature of the Republican party is that this is not the thing to do," Frank said.

The letter said the Pollard's life sentence was far more severe than what others convicted of similar offenses have received. Over the last 15 years, some of those convicted of relaying classified data, including Egyptian and Saudi nationals, received as little as two years in prison.

"We believe that there has been a great disparity from the standpoint of justice between the amount of time Mr. Pollard has served and the time that has been served -- or not served at all -- by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations that, like Israel, are not adversarial to us," the letter said.

The letter, said to have been supported by some in the former administration of President Ronald Reagan, said the 25 years Pollard has already served comprised sufficient punishment and deterrence. The Democrats said the letter did not mean to question Pollard's prosecution or sentence.

"Such an exercise of the clemency power would not in any way imply doubt about his guilt, nor cast any aspersions on the process by which he was convicted," the letter said.

  • See Also: Doc: Original Letter to Pres. Obama signed by 39 Congressmen calling for Release of Pollard