Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard did not do any damage to the United States by passing classified information to Israel, former US deputy attorney-general Philip B. Heymann wrote US President Barack Obama Wednesday in a request for Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence.
Heymann is the James Barr Ames Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, the author of two books on terrorism and director of Harvard Law School’s International Center for Criminal Justice. In his letter to Obama, he became the first US official to state that he has reviewed Pollard’s complete record and found no evidence that helped America’s enemies.
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“Pollard’s conviction was justified but his sentence was entirely out of line with others engaging in similar behavior, and it was made less-than-legitimate by a treacherous recommendation of the then-secretary of defense [Caspar Weinberger],” Heymann wrote. “There is no evidence that Pollard intended to harm the United States or help its enemies.”
Officials active in the effort to bring about Pollard’s release noted that he was charged with one count of passing classified information to an ally “with no intent to harm the US.” They said that “no intent to harm the US” was legalese for there being no evidence that damage was done.
Nevertheless, for years American officials claimed in the media that Pollard’s actions caused damage to the US. Heymann confirms that the official record contains no evidence to support such a claim.
Heymann became the second senior Harvard Law School professor to write Obama asking for him to commute Pollard’s life sentence to the more than 25 years he has already served. The first was Charles Ogletree, who was a mentor to both Obama and his wife, Michelle.
“Having already served a severe sentence, Pollard is now supported by political and religious leaders across the political spectrum in seeking a commutation,” Heymann wrote Obama.
“I join them with deep conviction as to the justice of their shared cause.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formally and publicly requested that Obama release Pollard on January 4.
Since then, Obama has not commented on the request and his spokesman only said that the request was received.