(photo credit: COURTESY OF JUSTICE FOR JONATHAN POLLARD)
The time has come for the US to release Jonathan Pollard so he can live the rest of his life as a free man, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday night, following Pollard’s hospitalization the previous day after he lost consciousness.
On Saturday evening, activists working on behalf of Pollard’s release said that his wife, Esther, was told that he was not in danger, and would shortly be returned to the North Carolina federal prison under the supervision of its infirmary. He will apparently need surgery soon.
Netanyahu told Kerry “that after 30 years in prison the time has come for his release to live the rest of his life as a free man.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that Pollard’s hospitalization, following his loss of consciousness, “underscores the need for immediate action for his release. It is regrettable and inexplicable that the parole board denied his application after serving 30 years, much of it in solitary confinement, far beyond anyone accused of a comparable crime.
“Underscoring the misguided decision regarding his parole was that he was given the highest score for suitability for release. There are many other factors that make clear that his unconditional release is long overdue,” the Conference of Presidents said.
“We urge President [Barack] Obama, especially in this holiday season and given Mr. Pollard’s worsening health, to take steps immediately to expedite... Mr. Pollard’s release and to commute his life sentence to the more than 29 years he has already served.”
Pollard’s request for parole was denied last month. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel.
Meanwhile, Construction Minister Uri Ariel called for the United States to end what he called its “cruel abuse” of Pollard and release the imprisoned Israeli agent.
“I demand the American government end its cruel abuse of Jonathan and release him effective immediately as many US officials have also recommended,” the minister insisted.
Ariel urged the Israeli public to pray for the recovery of Pollard, calling him “our brother.”
Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in the United States in 1987, had surgery in March related to the malfunctioning of his kidneys, gall bladder, and intestines.
At the time, Esther Pollard said that her husband’s access to appropriate medical attention was very limited.