Peres: I will do everything possible to free Jonathan Pollard

Jailed spy's wife asks president to act 'today' for the release of Pollard, currently hospitalized in the US

Bracha Kurtzer and Yoel Goldman - The Times of Israel - April 8, 2012

President Shimon Peres pledged Sunday to use "all the tools at my disposal" to win the release Jonathan Pollard, the jailed spy who is currently hospitalized in the US.

Peres told Esther Pollard that he is "very concerned about the recent reports about Jonathan's health," according to quotes released by Peres' office.

Esther Pollard said "time is running out" for her husband. "I ask you to contact President Obama today on humanitarian grounds and ask him not to send him back to jail," she told Peres.

She said she was making her appeal because she is Pollard's wife and does "not want to become his widow."

Peres was Israel's prime minister when Pollard, a civilian analyst working for the US military, was exposed as an Israeli agent in 1985 - an affair that badly strained relations between the allies.

Pollard, who is held in a North Carolina prison, was taken to hospital Friday. His supporters describe his condition as grave.

Also Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "the time has come to free Jonathan Pollard."

"I have done much to secure his release and will continue with this endeavor," said Netanyahu. "The Jewish festival of liberation should be his private festival of liberation," he said, in a reference to this week's Passover holiday.

Earlier Sunday, the powerful spiritual leader of the Shas party, Ovadia Yosef, urged Peres to press Obama to release Pollard.

Peres, who is set to meet with Obama in June to receive the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US, was paying a Passover visit to the Shas leader.

Peres promised last month to raise Pollard's case with Obama. He wrote on his Facebook page: "As president of the country it is very important to act decisively to bring about the release of Jonathan Pollard In all of my meetings with President Obama and American political leaders, I have raised the issue of Pollard's release and I will continue to do so at my upcoming meeting with Obama in June."

An Israeli group that lobbies for Pollard's release said this weekend that the jailed spy is suffering from serious medical problems and that doctors are concerned for his life.

The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home said Saturday that doctors in a North Carolina hospital where Pollard was taken Friday were still trying to identify his illness.

Pollard, who was rushed to the hospital from prison due to severe pains, has experienced a slow deterioration in his health, the Committee claimed. It urged the Israeli government to push the US to shorten Pollard's sentence. He has been in jail for 27 years.

Returning Pollard to prison would be "a dangerous gamble with his life," the Committee said in a statement.

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