Pollards dismiss rumors of impending release

Political officials hint that report may have been leaked in order to influence Jewish vote in upcoming US election.

Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - September 23, 2012

Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard's wife Esther called a report that her husband would be released by US President Barack Obama following the November 6 US election Sunday "an idle rumor."

A report in the Yediot Ahoronot newspaper cited a "high-level Israeli official" saying that Obama intended to commute Pollard's life sentence as part of the list of pardons and clemencies he will grant between the election and when his term ends in January.

"I will be very surprised if Pollard will not go free at the end of his term," the official said. The official cited the conversation between President Shimon Peres and Obama in Washington in March as the reason for his optimism.

The contents of the conversation have been kept a secret.

The campaign for Pollard's release, however, said there had been many false reports over the years about his imminent release. For instance, in April, 2005, Yediot Aharonot reported on its front page that then-US president George W. Bush would release him to help then-prime minister Ariel Sharon sell his withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

"This is not the first time such cynical news stories have spun rumors which detract attention and concern for my husband's plight," Esther Pollard said. "We have been through this numerous times before. The headlines always promise Jonathan's release at some future date which never arrives, while at the same time alleviating the pressure for Jonathan's release in the present tense."

Asked whether she had any doubts that perhaps this time the rumor might be true, Pollard, replied, "It is time to press for Jonathan's release now, and not rely on baseless rumors for some future uncertain date."

Political officials speculated that the report might have been leaked in order to influence the Jewish vote in the American election or to send a message to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Obama had leverage over him in Pollard.

"We have to be optimistic and do what we can even if the article connected to election and the possibility of a meeting between Netanyahu and Obama," said MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), who heads the Knesset's Pollard lobby. "We should do what we can to reach the people who have influence on Obama if we hope to succeed to bring him home."

Pollard, who was arrested in November 1985, marked his 9800th day in captivity last Thursday.

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