The White House on Monday rejected a request by President Shimon Peres to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from prison, AFP reported.
Peres sent an urgent personal request to US President Barack Obama on Monday in which he officially asked him to favorably consider commuting the life sentence of Pollard on humanitarian grounds.
But White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters that the United States had not altered its stance on keeping Pollard behind bars, AFP reported. "There's no change in our position," Vietor said.
In his missive to Obama, Peres thanked him for the great friendship that his government has shown to the State of Israel and emphasized the concern felt in Israel in general and by members of Pollard's family in particular about his deteriorating health.
Peres noted that in view of Pollard's poor health coupled with the 26 and a half years that he had served, it would be viewed as a supreme humanitarian gesture if Obama would commute his sentence.
The president kept his promise to Pollard's wife Esther to use all his influence as quickly as possible to ensure that her husband is not returned to prison when he leaves a nearby hospital where he is being treated for multiple ailments.
"To return him to prison would be a death sentence," she said.
The head of the Knesset's Pollard caucus, MK Uri Ariel (National Union), praised Peres for sending the letter and expressed hope that Obama would accept Peres's request "before it is too late."
The White House said Monday that its stance on Pollard had not changed and that Obama did not intend to release him. Sources close to Pollard said the White House statement was released before Obama had received the letter and they were still hopeful the US president would have a change of heart due to Peres's letter.
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