Former US Senate intelligence chief: Free Pollard

Dennis DeConcini tells 'Post' Israeli agent's punishment was more than others were given; “it’s a question of what is just and fair."

November 25, 2010 02:58
2 minute read.
Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Former US Senate Select Intelligence Committee chairman Dennis DeConcini called Tuesday for the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, who has served more than 25 years of a life sentence for passing information to an ally.

DeConcini added his name to a long list of current and former senior American and Israeli officials who have recently called upon US President Barack Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served, including former US deputy defense secretary Lawrence Korb, who was in that post when Pollard was arrested.

Why Obama should commute Pollard’s sentence
Opinion: Pollard’s life sentence doesn’t fit the crime
PM’s ignoble failure to free Pollard is Obama’s obligation

In a phone interview with The Jerusalem Post, 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.

“[Pollard’s] punishment was more than others were given [for the same and worse offenses],” he said. “It’s a question of what is just and fair, and in my opinion, justice has been served already. He is guilty, but it’s time for this to be resolved in a better way.”

DeConcini represented Arizona in the Senate from 1977 until 1995 and was one of the top leaders of the Democratic Party. He wrote Obama that Pollard was a good prisoner and had adequately paid for his wrongdoing.

“With my knowledge of the Pollard case, it is clear to me that he no longer poses any security threat with the information he obtained 24 years ago,” DeConcini wrote. “I believe that deterrence has been achieved and the requisite level of remorse has been expressed.”

Pollard’s wife, Esther, responded to DeConcini that it was time for action.

“Jonathan’s life is literally hanging in the balance, but no one is making any move to free him,” she said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is involved in intensive daily contacts with the Americans but has yet to make a clear public call for Jonathan’s immediate release as a matter of justice.

“This is year 26 – time is running out!” she declared.

“What will it take for Netanyahu to realize that he is allowing a human life to ebb away while he remains silent and indifferent? The prime minister must speak out now, and he must discharge his responsibility to save the life of an Israeli agent without any further delay!”

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