Pollard's lawyers file clemency request with Obama

Exclusive: In light of new revelations of government malfeasance, Israeli agent's lawyers ask for his immediate release from prison.

Jonathan Pollard 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jonathan Pollard 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jonathan Pollard’s American attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, filed a new petition for clemency on Friday, asking that US President Barack Obama commute Pollard’s life sentence to the 25 years he has already served, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The petition comes amid a wave of calls for the release of the Israeli agent and following new revelations of apparent government malfeasance made public by senior officials with first-hand involvement in the case – former minister Rafi Eitan and former US assistant secretary of defense Lawrence J. Korb.
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Eitan, who was Pollard’s handler, revealed on Thursday after press time that the US had violated an oral agreement with Israel to release Pollard after 10 years. In an interview with Israel Radio, Eitan also accused the US of deliberately perpetrating a travesty of justice by violating Pollard’s plea agreement and slapping him with what he called a grossly disproportionate life sentence.
He pointed out that at the time of Pollard’s sentencing in 1987, secret charges were laid against Pollard blaming him for the crimes of a Russian mole within American intelligence, Aldrich Ames. Pollard was neither informed of these charges nor given a chance to challenge them in a court of law.
Eitan said the US steadfastly refused to release Pollard even after Ames was exposed and arrested in 1994, “for their own reasons.”
Eitan called for the US to release Pollard at once, saying that 25 years was at least 15 years longer that he should have served.
Korb, who was assistant secretary of defense under Caspar Weinberger at the time of Pollard’s arrest, wrote a letter to Obama calling for Pollard’s release that was released last week.
The letter called Pollard’s sentence “grossly disproportionate” and said it was the result of Weinberger’s “visceral dislike” of Israel, and not because of the offense Pollard had committed.
In addition to Korb, former CIA director James Woolsey and former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dennis DeConcini, as well as a cross-section of other notable Americans, and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations have all recently called for Pollard’s release.
All major Jewish religious organizations across the spectrum including the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center, the Orthodox Union, the National Council of Young Israel, and Agudath Israel, have also recently issued calls for Pollard’s release.
Adding to the groundswell of support, four democratic congressmen – Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, and Edolphus Towns and Anthony Weiner, both of New York – have been circulating a petition among their colleagues with a letter addressed to Obama showing support for Pollard’s immediate release.
Weinberger said in a 2002 interview that the Pollard case was a “minor matter” that had been “made much more important than it was” in order to serve another agenda. Weinberger died in 2006.
Pollard’s new petition for clemency contains documents and statements designed to show not only the injustice done to Pollard, but also the support for his freedom.
The Korb letter and the DeConcini letter to Obama are part of the filing, along with statements from other relevant American officials in support of Pollard’s immediate release.
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, who spearheads efforts in the US on behalf of Pollard, said, “The injustice is well known. All that is needed now to correct it is Mr. Obama’s signature on Jonathan’s new petition for clemency.
“The American Jewish community and the people of Israel hope that the president will take this opportunity to restore honor to the American system of justice by releasing Jonathan Pollard now, and sending him home to Jerusalem to his wife, Esther, and to his people.”
Esther Pollard stressed, “Jonathan’s petition for clemency does not ask for a pardon, only for clemency.
A pardon expunges the offense as if it never happened.
Jonathan is not asking for his offense to be erased. All he is asking is for President Obama to commute his life sentence to time served.
“Because the president’s powers of executive clemency are unlimited and not subject to review by any other government office or official, the president can correct this decades-long injustice in virtually a few seconds with a single stroke of his pen,” she said.
Jonathan Pollard, 56, relayed to The Jerusalem Post via his wife that he appreciates the efforts his attorneys made to complete the petition expeditiously and submit it without delay.
“Twenty-five years is a long time,” he said. “Esther and I hope that President Obama will see to it that justice does not have to wait any longer.”