Ahead of Peres Event, Historic Bi-Partisan Letter to Obama in Support of Pollard's Release is Being Circulated in Congress
June 12, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Aaron Troodler
In an unprecedented display of bi-partisanship, a "Dear Colleague" letter is being circulated in the U.S. House of Representatives in support of clemency for Jonathan Pollard. Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), both of whom are veteran members of the House of Representatives, are soliciting signatures on a letter to President Obama, which urges the President to commute Pollard's sentence to time served.
Pollard has spent more than 26 years of an unprecedented life sentence languishing in a federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States. The median sentence for this offense is 2 to 4 years. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for this offense.
The letter from Congressman Engel, who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee and is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and Congressman Smith, who serves as a senior member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, is chairman of its Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee, and chairs the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, marks the first time Congressional Democrats and Republicans have joined forces in an effort to secure Pollard's release. In November 2010, Congressman Barney Frank spearheaded a letter to President Obama that was signed by 39 members of Congress, all of whom were Democrats, which asked the President to commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence.
The "Dear Colleague" letter comes as Israeli President Shimon Peres visits the United States, where he is scheduled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. President Peres, who has already issued a formal request to President Obama to release Jonathan Pollard, has pledged to personally raise the issue with President Obama when the two meet. 70,000 Jews in Israel, the U.S. and around the world have signed a petition which urges Peres to use his influence and standing in Washington to ensure that Pollard is immediately released.
The Committee to Free Pollard urges people to contact their Congressional representatives and request that they sign onto this historic bi-partisan letter. In addition, the Committee encourages people to contact Congressmen Engel and Smith and thank them for spearheading this important letter to the President.
Numerous American leaders have called for a commutation of Pollard's sentence, including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; former Secretary of State George Shultz; former CIA Director James Woolsey; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane; former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb; former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum; former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Senator Dennis DeConcini; former Senator David Durenberger, who served as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of Pollard's conviction; former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Jonathan Pollard's sentencing; and Senators John McCain and Charles Schumer.
Pollard has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private in letters to many Presidents and others. His health has deteriorated significantly during his more than two-and-a-half decades in prison.
Despite the fact that Pollard entered into a plea agreement and fully cooperated with the prosecution in his case, he nonetheless received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled, which was in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.
The following is the text of the "Dear Colleague" letter being circulated in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Engel and Smith, as well as the proposed text of the Congressional letter to President Obama:
Grant Clemency to Jonathan Pollard
From: The Committee on Foreign Affairs - Minority Staff
We invite you to cosign the attached letter to President Obama asking him to use his power of clemency and commute Jonathan Pollard's prison sentence to time served. Mr. Pollard broke the law and deserved to be punished for his crime. However, his health is reportedly declining - he has recently been hospitalized for kidney and gallstone problems. It is also clear that Mr. Pollard, who has already been in prison for 27 years, has served a disproportionately severe sentence. A number of people convicted of spying for other countries, ranging from the former Soviet Union to South Korea, have been given lighter sentences than Mr. Pollard.
Mr. Pollard has expressed remorse for his illegal actions, and we believe the time has come for the President to grant him clemency. If you would like to cosign this letter or you have any questions, please have your staff contact Jason Steinbaum with the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere at x66684 or Mark Milosch with the Helsinki Commission at x51901.
Eliot L. Engel
Member of Congress
Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Text of Letter follows
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to urge you to exercise your power of clemency and commute Jonathan Pollard's prison sentence to time served.
What Mr. Pollard did was wrong. He broke the law and deserved to be punished for his crime. Mr. Pollard has now served more than 25 years in prison, many of which in solitary confinement, for his actions. There is no doubt that he has paid a heavy price, and, from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence, we believe he has been imprisoned long enough.
Mr. Pollard has expressed remorse for his actions, and his health is reportedly declining - he has recently been hospitalized for kidney and gallstone problems. It is also clear that Mr. Pollard has served a disproportionately severe sentence. A number of people convicted of spying for other countries, ranging from the former Soviet Union to South Korea, have been given lighter sentences than Mr. Pollard. We would not expect that Mr. Pollard would be treated any better than anyone else who has committed similar acts, but we certainly do not believe he should be treated any worse.
For all of these reasons we join our voices to those who see clemency as an act of compassion justified on humanitarian grounds and for purposes of fairness and equity. We, therefore, again urge you to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard so that he can be released for time served.
Paul Revere Public Relations, LLC
(888) 897-7450 (phone & fax)