State Control C'tee asks Lindenstrauss for opinion on Pollard

Esther Pollard: Jonathan has served more than five times the usual sentence for his offense.

This is the time to act toward Jonathan Pollard's release from prison, not to investigate why he has not been released until now, Pollard's wife, Esther, said Monday in response to the Knesset State Control Committee's decision to ask State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to investigate the affair. Pollard was arrested in 1985 by US authorities and sentenced to life imprisonment for revealing classified documents to Israel while serving as a naval employee. "Jonathan has served more than five times the usual sentence for the offense he committed, including seven years in solitary confinement," said his wife, in a statement issued by the Justice for Jonathan Pollard group. "With the visit of President George Bush to Israel next week, now is the right moment to obtain his release. The time to save Jonathan's life is now. To bring him home safe and sound. When Jonathan is home and out of harm's way, there will be ample time to investigate." Monday morning, the Knesset State Control Committee asked Lindenstrauss to investigate why Israel had failed to gain Pollard's release since his arrest. "After 22 years in which an Israeli citizen and agent has been rotting in an American prison, it is only right to see where we failed and what steps the government has to take to obtain his release," said committee chairman MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP). Orlev said that both he and Lindenstrauss had received requests to investigate the matter. Pollard had written to the state comptroller several times, Lindenstrauss added. Before asking the state comptroller to prepare an opinion on the matter, Orlev continued, he had consulted with the former and current cabinet secretaries, and the officials in charge of security at the Defense Ministry, Yehiel Horev and his successor, Amir Kain. MK Uri Ariel (NU-NRP), head of the Knesset caucus on behalf of Pollard, charged that when Ariel Sharon served as prime minister, he had been given a petition signed by 112 of the 120 MKs to be presented to the US president, asking for Pollard's release. When Sharon returned from the trip and was asked about the petition, he said he had forgotten it at home. "Is this doing all you can for Pollard?" asked Ariel. Although many of the committee members said they did not doubt the government had tried its best to gain Pollard's release, they voted in favor of asking the state comptroller to prepare an opinion on the matter.