Former US Senate Select Intelligence Committee chairman Dennis DeConcini wrote US President Barack Obama for the second time in five months this week, calling upon him to commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to the 25 years he has already served.
DeConcini said he felt compelled to write Obama again, in order to follow up on a recent congressional letter, signed by 39 congressmen, advocating Pollard’s release.
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“I was on the Senate Intelligence Committee when Pollard was arrested, and subsequently became its chairman,” he said. “I am well aware of the classified information concerning the damage he caused. Pollard was charged with one count of giving classified information to an ally, Israel. He was never charged with nor to my knowledge did he ever give any information to a third country.”
A source intimately familiar with the Pollard case said DeConcini’s letter was the first time someone who knew the classified information had definitively stated in their own words that the Israeli agent had not given any information to a third country, a charge that has been suggested in media reports.
DeConcini also wrote Obama that Pollard’s sentence was unjust, given the shorter time served by agents of enemy countries and the plea bargain Pollard had reached with the American Justice Department.
“It appears to me that the eventual punishment awarded to Mr. Pollard, life in prison, exceeded the severity of the crime,” he wrote.
“In addition, it is noteworthy that what law Pollard broke, though a violation, clearly it was information given to an ally and a friend of the US. Not an enemy,” he went on. “Though in determining the guilt or innocence this would not weigh heavy on a court or jury, however, I do believe it is important to note if there is consideration for commutation.
“Pollard has been punished significantly more than most convicts of similar crimes. I believe that Pollard has been sufficiently punished, and that it is unjust for him to serve any more time in prison,” he asserted.
In a phone interview with The Jerusalem Post last month, the Arizona Democrat said he had closely examined Pollard’s case when he headed the committee from 1993 to 1994, and concluded that he had been treated fairly by the judicial system.
The US Justice Department and the CIA submitted documents to him for the investigation.
But he said he had later changed his tune and written three presidents, including Obama in August, urging them to pardon Pollard.