Peres Dismisses Reports That Obama Denied His Request To Free Pollard
Peres' Office: Obama has still not responded to the request to free Pollard
Eric Bender - Maariv NRG - April 10, 2012
Original Hebrew article.
Following the announcement of the National Security Council spokesman that there is no intention to release the spy, the President's Office says that it did not receive a formal response from the White House, and that the President of the USA has not yet decided. Committee for Pollard: "Obama is the only authority; we are all waiting anxiously for his reply."
[Translation to English courtesy of IMRA]
After the National Security Council spokesman announced last night that the U.S. does not intend to release the convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in spite of the personal request that President Peres sent to Obama - this morning (Tuesday) in Israel the spokesman's remarks are dismissed and it is claimed that they do not reflect the personal position of the American president.
The office of President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem clarified that no formal response has been received from the White House, and argued that the announcement of the NSC spokesman was given in response to a query directed from a news agency's reporter - before Obama decided on the matter.
The assessment in Jerusalem is that the American president's response has yet to be given since the President and his advisers are still on Easter vacation.
The Chairman of the Knesset Lobby for Pollard, MK Uri Ariel (National Union), in turn, condemned the hasty announcement of the White House, calling it "insensitive" and claimed that it "borders on cruelty." The MK noted that this was not yet Obama's personal response to the personal message that he received from Peres.
He said that "if Obama also announces his refusal to release Pollard I call on President Shimon Peres to consider giving up on receiving the Medal of Freedom from Obama and cancelling his upcoming visit with him."
"We're all waiting for his personal response"
The Pollard Committee also responded to the White House announcement and expressed the hope that it does not reflect the position of President.
"President Obama did not reject the request of President Peres to set him free. An official reply of President Obama has yet to be received. President Shimon Peres made the request officially and personally to President Obama and we are awaiting a personal and official response directly from President Obama to President Peres."
Committee also added that "the NSC spokesman's announcement reflects the current position - and that announcement made it clear that it did not reflect Obama's response to the request from Peres. It is important to note that President Obama has the sole authority to grant clemency and that any statement from anyone else is irrelevant."
The 57-year-old Pollard was hospitalized last week in the prison medical center in North Carolina. Israeli spy's attorney said that "for over a year my client suffers from medical problems that are ever increasingly exhausting and weakening him, and that led to surgery and other emergency operations."
American presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have refused to respond positively to requests for release of spy detained in Israel for 26 years.
"His strength is running out"
Peres' decision to send the letter to Obama came in part after his meeting with Esther Pollard, wife of the Israeli spy, on Sunday, in the wake of her husband's downward spiral. "I appeal to you as the wife of Jonathan, I do not want to be a widow," Esther said at the meeting.
"He is running out of strength, he can not go through another crisis, and I ask that you contact today the president of the United States to release my husband on a humanitarian basis."
During the meeting, Esther Pollard broke into tears several times and the President tried to reassure her. Esther turned to Peres and emphasized: "I ask that you contact Obama today, it will make the difference between life and death - if he's still alive. There is no time to wait until your meeting with Obama in June. We have a few days. I do not sleep at night".
In the letter Peres sent to the President following the meeting he thanked President Obama for the "positive attitude and great friendship that his Government has demonstrated towards Israel, and emphasized to him the great concern that the People of Israel and Pollard's family have in light of the current deterioration of his health." President Peres emphasized that in light of his difficult health condition and the fact that he has already served 26 years in prison, Peres repeats his request urging President Obama to favorably consider pardoning him.
See Also: Obama has NOT refused Peres' Appeal for Pollard's Release: Justice4JPnews