Free Pollard: His release is long past due - [N.California] - April 26, 2012

There are times in life when the overwhelming weight of inertia must be thrust aside. The case for clemency for Jonathan Pollard provides just such an opportunity to right a wrong.

This week, representatives of the three main denominations in Judaism, as well as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, appealed to President Barack Obama to release Pollard, who has languished in federal prison for more than a quarter-century.

We urge the administration to heed these and so many previous appeals, and let Pollard go.

Most of us know the basic outline of the case. A naval intelligence analyst, Pollard passed classified information on to Israeli security services in the early 1980s.

This information had to do with Syrian, Libyan, Iraqi and Iranian warfare capabilities, intelligence vital to Israeli security and information to which Israel - some have argued - was entitled under preexisting bilateral agreements.

It is true that Pollard was later revealed to be an Israeli agent. Yet he cooperated fully with the prosecution, only to receive an unexpected life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Pollard was not indicted for harming the United States, nor charged with treason. He was charged only on one count of passing on classified information to a foreign government, an ally. Indeed, no one else has ever received a life sentence for this crime before, or since.

Throughout the past 26 years, Israeli prime ministers have urged clemency for Pollard. Deals have been attempted, but none bore fruit. In addition, after all this time behind bars Pollard's health has deteriorated alarmingly.

The latest move on Israel's part to free Pollard has come from President Shimon Peres, who recently appealed to the Obama administration to grant a pardon. Additionally, some in Israel, including at least one Knesset member, are urging Peres to make his acceptance of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in June contingent on Pollard's release.

Obviously, the national security of the United States is not to be trifled with, not even by a close ally. But the prosecution and continued imprisonment of Pollard has been more of a persecution than anything else.

He has apologized for his deeds. He has expressed remorse. He has suffered enough.

Justice is no longer served by keeping Jonathan Pollard in prison. It is long past time that he go free.

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