Peres to push Pollard´s release ahead of medal (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL HOFFMAN 03/28/12)
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President Shimon Peres said Tuesday that he would do whatever
possible to bring about the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard
before he receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US
President Barack Obama.
Peres responded to a petition signed by more than 15,000 people
calling upon him to take advantage of being granted the medal as an
opportunity to push Obama to commute Pollard´s sentence to the more
than 26 years of his life sentence he has already served.
"As president, I see it as very important to work determinedly to
bring about Jonathan Pollard´s release," Peres said.
"We are all united in the call to release him immediately. In all my
meetings with president Obama and top American government leaders I
raised the request to release Pollard and I will continue to do so
when I meet with Obama in June. My office is in touch with the
campaign for Pollard´s release and we will work hand in hand in any
way possible to bring Jonathan Pollard home."
Obama announced three weeks ago at the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee Policy Conference that he would give Peres the medal.
Peres’s office said he had discussed Pollard’s fate with Obama when
they met in Washington ahead of the conference.
But Pollard is still serving the life sentence he was given more than
26 years ago for passing classified information to an ally. Obama has
not responded to calls by many top current and former Israeli and
American officials to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served.
“Due to the superior values the medal represents, we feel we cannot
reconcile you receiving it when the United States is still holding
Pollard in prison,” the petition, which was signed by nearly 12,000
people at press time, states.
“We ask you to take advantage of your unprecedented diplomatic
standing in order to work for Jonathan’s immediate release before you
are given the medal. Otherwise receiving the medal would make a
mockery of Israel.”
According to the 1987 Eban Commission Report, the Knesset committee
appointed to investigate the Pollard affair, Peres personally
initiated and authorized the return to the US of all of the documents
that Pollard had provided to Israel with his fingerprints still upon
them, which helped the prosecution’s case. This was the first and
only case in the history of modern espionage in which a prime
minister actively assisted in the indictment and prosecution of his
own country’s agent.
The organizers of the petition stressed that they were not asking
Peres to condition receiving the medal on Pollard’s freedom. Obama is
due to give Peres the medal at a special ceremony in Washington on
Many well-known Israelis from the Left side of the political map
signed the petition, including former education minister Amnon
Rubinstein. The former Shinui and Meretz MK said it would be fitting
if Peres came back from Washington with both the medal and Pollard,
and that Peres should work behind the scenes between now and June to
make sure this would happen.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, who was the first minister
to visit Pollard, said he believed Peres could succeed in bringing
“One additional kvetch could be all that’s necessary for the effort
to succeed,” Edelstein said.
Peres’s legal adviser Nadav Tamir responded in an Army Radio
interview that Peres’s office was part of the effort to bring about
Pollard’s release and would coordinate efforts with the people behind
the petition. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/28/12)
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