Congressman: If Lockerbie bomber was freed, why not Pollard?
Congressman Allen West writes to Obama asking how can Israeli agent be kept in jail when his crimes weren't as serious as those of al-Megrahi.
Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - June 5, 2005
A Florida Congressman wrote US president Barack Obama over the weekend asking him to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard using an argument that has never been used before in dozens of letters from top American and Israeli officials who have pleaded for Pollard's release.
Republican Congressman Allen West is a well-respected retired US Army lieutenant colonel with the highest security clearances possible in America, known as Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented information, or TS/SCI. He wrote Obama that the decision by his administration to intervene to bring about the release in August 2009 of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who killed 270 people, it is obvious that Pollard should Pollard be released.
"After serving 26 years behind bars, Pollard's health is deteriorating as is his wife's," West wrote. "If [the US] can consent to the release by the British of the Lockerbie Bomber back to Libya due to health concerns, how can we justify keeping Mr. Pollard behind bars when his crimes were clearly not as serious as a terrorist who murdered hundreds of Americans?"
Al-Megrahi was convicted of murder in 2001 for bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, killing all 259 passengers and crew members on board, as well as eleven people in Lockerbie, Scotland, who were hit by sections of the plane that fell in their town and destroyed several houses.
The Sunday Times revealed last July that the US embassy in London had requested that al-Megrahi be released from prison rather than transferred to a prison in Libya because he had terminal cancer. The Scottish justice secretary who released al-Megrahi justified it by saying that the bomber had only three months left to live.
But the Sunday Times later revealed that Megrahi's doctors thought he could live for another decade. Al-Megrahi is still living at his family's villa in Libya.
West, who reportedly used his security clearance to check Pollard's file before authoring the letter to Obama, wrote that the crime of spying against an ally normally carried a 10-year sentence and that after spending five years in solitary confinement in one of America's most secure prisons, Pollard had learned his lesson. He wrote that while he did not condone Pollard's crime, he had been sufficiently punished.
Congressman West was elected to represent Florida's 22nd Congressional District in 2010 and took office in January 2011. A Conservative Republican who is supportive of the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement, West was the keynote speaker at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee
During the course of a distinguished military career that spanned over two decades, West achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He served as a field artillery officer in several combat zones, including Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and in Afghanistan.
Both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have asked Obama to grant clemency to Pollard but Obama has not responded to the requests.
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