Pollards to 'Post': We hope Peres sways Obama

Bipartisan Congressional letter aims to show Obama both US parties united in support of clemency for Israeli agent.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 12, 2012 22:31
2 minute read.
Jonathan and Esther Pollard

Jonathan and Esther Pollard 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

 
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Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther expressed optimism Tuesday night that President Shimon Peres would convince his American counterpart Barack Obama when they meet Wednesday to commute Pollard’s sentence to the 26.5 years he has served.

In a statement given exclusively to The Jerusalem Post, the Pollards said they were “exhilarated, overwhelmed and very grateful for the enormous support” that has been galvanized in support of Peres’s appeal to Obama. “We are heartened that so many senior American officials including those who know the case best are strongly calling for Jonathan’s release,” Esther Pollard said. “Their support enables President Obama to make a bold and courageous decision to respond favorably to President Peres and set Jonathan free. We are hopeful.”

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On a personal note, Esther Pollard added: “I lie awake in bed at night, hoping, praying, dreaming, that our nightmare is finally coming to an end. That Jonathan will soon be home, maybe even on Mr. Peres’s plane, and we can begin a normal life and attend to his urgent medical needs. We hope and pray that the time to cut the Gordian knot has finally come.”

The Pollards marked the Israeli agent’s 9,700th day in captivity on Tuesday. The head of the Pollard caucus in the Knesset, MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), said on the Knesset floor that she hoped that when Peres receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama Wednesday, he will also receive good news about Pollard.

In an unprecedented display of bipartisanship, a “dear colleague” letter is being circulated in the US House of Representatives in support of clemency for Pollard.

Congressman Eliot Engel (DNew York) and Congressman Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey), both of whom are veteran members of the House of Representatives, are soliciting signatures on a letter to Obama that urges the president to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served.

The letter marks the first time congressional Democrats and Republicans have joined forces in an effort to secure Pollard’s release. In November 2010, Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) spearheaded a letter to Obama that was signed by 39 members of Congress, all of whom were Democrats.

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“There is no doubt that [Pollard] has paid a heavy price, and, from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence, we believe he has been imprisoned long enough,” the Congressmen wrote Obama. “We join our voices to those who see clemency as an act of compassion justified on humanitarian grounds and for purposes of fairness and equity.”

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