Pollard: Netanyahu hasn’t asked Obama to free me

Israeli agent to 'Post': I have not been on the agenda at all in recent contacts between PM, American administration.”

October 13, 2010 07:34
3 minute read.
Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has not asked US President Barack Obama to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, who has served nearly 25 years of a life sentence for passing information to an ally, Pollard told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

There has been speculation recently that Netanyahu has been working behind the scenes on Pollard’s behalf, because heads of Jewish organizations, American congressmen and a key figure in the Pollard affair have all written Obama in the past month asking him to commute his sentence. But Pollard, who was arrested on November 21, 1985, said he knew for a fact that this was not the case.

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“Our American sources in Washington have confirmed that in recent weeks Prime Minister Netanyahu has not asked President Obama to release me,” Pollard said in a statement delivered via his wife Esther. “Our American sources in Washington have also confirmed that I have not been been on the agenda at all in recent contacts between the Netanyahu administration and the American administration.”

Pollard said this was especially lamentable now, because Lawrence Korb, who was assistant secretary of defense when Pollard was arrested, had written Obama a letter calling his sentence disproportionate. Korb blamed the severity of the sentence on the anti-Israel agenda of his former boss, the late Caspar Weinberger.

“Based on my first-hand knowledge, I can say with confidence that the severity of Pollard’s sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger,” Korb wrote Obama two weeks ago in a letter released to the press on Tuesday.

“Secretary Weinberger submitted two affidavits to the court in order to convince the judge to give Pollard a harsher sentence than the one requested by the government, despite Pollard admitting guilt, plea bargaining and cooperating with the government,” he added. “The government committed to not seeking a life sentence but due to the Weinberger affidavits, the redacted version of which I have read, Mr. Pollard received a disproportionate life sentence.”

Pollard called Korb’s letter “an unprecedented breakthrough in my case” and “the golden key to my jail cell.”

Korb gave the Pollards the green light to release the letter so the key would be put squarely in Netanyahu’s hand to seek his release.

“The dramatic and irrefutable information in the letter Dr. Korb wrote to President Obama strips away every possible impediment to gaining my immediate and unconditional release,” Pollard said. “Morally and legally it is incumbent upon Mr. Netanyahu as the prime minister of Israel to act immediately without any further delay or excuses.”

Israeli officials declined to respond directly to Pollard or Korb, due to the sensitivity of the matter. Instead they released general statements about Pollard.

“Consecutive Israeli governments over more than two decades, including the current one, have raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard’s release with the American authorities for humanitarian reasons, and that is our obligation,” one official said.

Another official added that “Pollard is an issue we take seriously and we bring up with American officials time and time again, but the view of officials in the American government appears to have remained consistent.”

National Union MK Uri Ariel, who heads the Pollard lobby in the Knesset, said he had seen momentum working in Pollard’s favor recently, “but we have to be careful not to be too optimistic, and we have to never stop working to make sure Jonathan comes home.”

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