Ambassador Michael Oren to visit Pollard in prison

Sources close to Pollard say US envoy will visit Israeli agent in North Carolina jail; would mark first such visit by representative of Netanyahu government; Esther Pollard on way to US to join Oren.

Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - July 25, 2011

Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren will become the first representative of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to visit imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard since Netanyahu's term began.

Oren will visit Pollard's North Carolina prison cell on Tuesday, sources close to Pollard said Sunday.

There were reports in March that Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon would visit Pollard. But at the time, sources close to Pollard immediately denied the reports because his poor health would prevent him from greeting visitors.

This time, Pollard's wife, Esther, already left Israel for the US on Sunday to join Oren on the visit, though there was still a chance that her husband's ailing health could prevent the meeting.

"Jonathan is facing surgery due to the deterioration of his health, and it is not known yet when the surgery will be, but we hope the visit happens," said Pollard activist Adi Ginsburg.

Oren caused an uproar when he suggested in an interview with a Washington radio station last June that Pollard had been part of a rogue operation.

"Jonathan Pollard occurred in the mid-1980s," Oren told the station. "Now, we're talking about an event that was run by a rogue organization in the Israeli intelligence community. That was, what, 25 years ago?"

Netanyahu released a rare statement refuting his ambassador following reports of the interview, saying that "Pollard worked as an agent of the State of Israel, and no one is trying to deny this."

But Oren made a more favorable impression on Pollard when he worked unsuccessfully to try to get him granted compassionate leave to attend the funeral of his father, Prof. Morris Pollard, who died June 18.

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