Israel, Presidents Conference urge Pollard release after collapse
Jewish Telegraphic Agency - News Brief - December 7, 2014
WASHINGTON (JTA) - In the wake of news that Jonathan Pollard collapsed in prison and was taken to a hospital, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United States to release the convicted spy-for-Israel.
Netanyahu called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Saturday night, a day after his collapse and hospitalization, and urged the United States to allow Pollard to live the rest of his life in freedom.
"Pollard's life is in danger. After 30 years in prison, it's time he should be released and live the rest of his life as a free man," Netanyahu said Saturday night after the phone call.
Pollard reportedly will be returned to the infirmary of the federal prison in Butner, N .C. in the coming days and will require surgery soon, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing activists working on behalf of Pollard's release.
The U.S. Jewish foreign policy umbrella also urged President Obama to release Pollard, following news of his collapse.
"We urge President Obama, especially in this holiday season and given Mr. Pollard's worsening health, to take steps immediately to expedite Mr. Pollard's release and to commute his life sentence to the more than 29 years he has already served," said the statement issued Friday by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Pollard has been jailed since his arrest in 1985 for spying for Israel. He had surgery in March and has been hospitalized several times in recent years, mostly for kidney and liver problems.
The former U.S. Navy analyst was sentenced to life in prison in 1987, and remains there although many former U.S. officials involved in his identification and prosecution now advocate for his release.
The President's Conference scored the U.S. Parole Commission for turning down Pollard's first application for parole, earlier this year.
"It is regrettable and inexplicable that the Parole Board denied his application after serving 30 years, much of it in solitary confinement, far beyond anyone accused of a comparable crime," its statement said.
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