Former U.S. VP calls on Obama to commute Jonathan Pollard's life sentence

Dan Quayle is the most senior former administration official to support calls to grant clemency to the convicted Israeli spy.

Natasha Mozgovaya and Haaretz Service - Haaretz - February 7, 2011

Former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle sent President Barack Obama a letter Monday, calling on him to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy sentenced to life in prison for espionage against the United States.

Pollard was found guilty of spying against the U.S. in 1987 and is incarcerated at a federal jail in North Carolina.

Quayle wrote in a letter to the Obama that although Pollard's crime "was very serious, a life sentence for the crime committed is very extreme."

Quayle is the most senior former U.S. Administration official to date to support the recent calls to grant clemency to Pollard.

Last month, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent the U.S. president a letter requesting the release of Pollard for humanitarian reasons. This was the first formal request made by Israel for his release.

In his letter, Netanyahu wrote "even though Israel was in no way directing its intelligence efforts against the United States, its actions were wrong and wholly unacceptable. Both Mr. Pollard and the Government of Israel have repeatedly expressed remorse for these actions, and Israel will continue to abide by its commitment that such wrongful actions will never be repeated."

Netanyahu made the decision to send the letter after meeting with Pollard's wife Esther, as well as Lawrence Korb, who was the U.S. assistant secretary of defense at the time of Pollard's arrest and has also called for his release. Korb has publicly stated that Pollard's punishment was too severe relative to the felonies he committed.

U.S. State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley responded to the Israeli prime minister's letter saying only that the convicted spy currently remains in prison.

Last year, several U.S. congressmen signed a petition calling on President Obama to pardon Pollard in order to advance the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

A statement released by Democratic Representative Barney Frank "notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel, as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people."

The White House National Security Council told Haaretz on Monday that they do not have any comment on Quayle's correspondence.

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