Influential Nigerian pastor asks Obama to free Pollard

Named one of world's 50 most powerful people by Newsweek, Adeboye writes letter to US president, asking that he commute agent's sentence.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
November 7, 2011 17:16
2 minute read.
ENOCH ADEJARE ADEBOYE

ENOCH ADEJARE ADEBOYE. (photo credit: Courtesy www.eaadeboye.com)

 
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The international effort to bring about the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from an American prison recently received an unexpected endorsement from one of the most respected voices in Africa.

Nigerian pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, who was named one of the 50 most powerful people in the world by Newsweek, wrote US President Barack Obama asking him to commute Pollard’s life sentence to the nearly 26 years he has already served.

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His Redeemed Christian Church of God has more than 14,000 branches in 110 countries and has more than five million members in Nigeria alone. It has hundreds of branches in cities across the US.

“I humbly request that the remainder of Jonathan Pollard’s sentence is commuted in the interest of justice,” Adeboye wrote Obama.

Adeboye’s letter is part of a trend of top current and former African and African- American officials joining the effort to bring about Pollard’s release ahead of the 26th anniversary of his arrest on November 21.

Former New York City mayor David Dinkins recently wrote to Obama complaining about the “cruelty” of Pollard not being allowed to attend the funeral of his father, Morris, who died in June.

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“I write to join the many Americans and humanitarians worldwide who are calling upon you to exercise your power of clemency to commute Jonathan Pollard’s prison sentence to time served,” Dinkins wrote Obama. “I first recommended that president Clinton consider such action in 1993, and, that failing, now find it necessary to appeal to you.”

Dinkins, who served as the mayor of New York City from 1990-1993, is the only African-American to hold that office. He currently serves as a professor in the Practice of Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. A number of other civil rights leaders have called for Pollard’s release, including Congressman John Lewis of Georgia and Benjamin Hooks, who served as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Other respected African-Americans who have written Obama about Pollard include Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree, who was President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama’s law professor at Harvard and remains friends with them today, and Rabbi Capers Funnye of Chicago, who is Michelle’s first cousin.

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