Pollard Issues Public Apology

December 17, 1997 - Naomi Segal - JTA

Jonathan Pollard has publicly apologized for his actions for all the world to see.

"I am extremely sorry for what happened," Pollard said Wednesday in remarks broadcast on Israeli television.

"I don't believe that anybody who has experienced what I have experienced over the past 13 years could feel anything but profound sorrow and remorse," said the former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who has been serving a life sentence since 1987 for spying for Israel.

"My motives may have been well and good, but they only served to explain why I did what I did," he said from his Butner, N.C., federal prison. "They certainly do not serve as an excuse for breaking the law. As far as Jonathan Pollard is concerned, I hope he will serve as a cautionary tale for others."

Members of the Israeli media were allowed into the prison to accompany Israel's communications minister, Limor Livnat, who visited Pollard on Wednesday. Her visit comes several weeks after Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein became the first Israeli minister to visit Pollard in jail.

Livnat gave Pollard a message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing hope for his imminent release. The message signaled a possible policy shift on the part of the Israeli government, which has indicated it would more actively campaign for his release.

Prior to her departure for the United States, Livnat said the Israeli government should more actively press for Pollard's release. Earlier this month, the Knesset passed a motion calling for his release.

Netanyahu recently denied that he had abandoned Pollard's cause. He said he had raised the matter three times in discussions with President Clinton. Clinton rejected a clemency plea from Pollard in July 1996, citing the gravity of his crime, his lack of remorse and the damage he caused to American security.

In the past, Israeli leaders have disassociated themselves from Pollard, maintaining that he passed on information during the 1980s without official Israeli sanction. Pollard has petitioned Israel's High Court of Justice to compel the government to recognize him as an agent who acted for the state.

In his televised comments, Pollard criticized Foreign Minister David Levy for failing to provide that recognition. The Foreign Ministry responded that it was cooperating fully with government efforts to secure Pollard's release.