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 Yediot Aharonot 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
The official cited the conversation between President Shimon Peres
and Obama in Washington in June as the reason for his optimism. The contents of
the conversation have been kept a secret.
A spokesperson for the campaign
for Pollard’s release 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.
release him to help then-prime minister Ariel Sharon sell his withdrawal from
the Gaza Strip to the Israeli public.
“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 is connected to the 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.”