Peres to Obama: Release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 04/10/12)
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President Shimon Peres sent a personal letter to U.S. President Barak
Obama on Monday, urging Obama to consider granting clemency to
Jonathan Pollard, citing the convicted spy´s deteriorating health.
Officials at Peres´ bureau indicated that the president´s diplomatic
adviser handed the missive to U.S. envoy in Israel Dan Shapiro, with
U.S. officials confirming that Obama received the letter in the
In a statement released by Peres, the president thanked Obama for
what he said was the friendliness his administration has shown
Israel, citing the Passover seder the American president held last
week at the White House, and reiterating the importance of the value
of freedom to the Jewish holiday.
Peres updated his U.S. counterpart on a conversation he conducted a
few days ago with Esther Pollard, the convicted spy´s wife, stressing
that the Pollard family, as well as the Jewish people, were concerned
about Pollard´s health.
The president sent the missive after receiving a petition signed by
80 MKs, urging Obama to release the Jewish spy, as well as intense
pressure from the lobby working to secure Pollard´s release ahead of
Peres´ White House visit planned for June.
During that meeting, Peres is expected to receive the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, which, the Pollard lobby argues, the president
should refuse until the convicted spy is released.
Peres´ missive comes over a year after Netanyahu send a similar plea
to the American president in January 2011, a letter which represented
the first time Israel officially requested the spy´s release.
Netanyahu since raised the Pollard during his several meetings with
Obama, although he did not always receive a U.S. response.
Israeli officials estimated that, as with Netanyahu´s attempts,
Peres´ missive serves, for the most part, as a declarative measure,
one which won´t likely draw out any U.S. reply and that won´t advance
Pollard, 49, was a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy
when, in the mid-1980s, he copied and gave to his Israeli handlers
enough classified documents to fill a walk-in closet. He was given a
Pollard, who was not paid when he began spying in 1984 but later
began receiving several thousand dollars per month, was caught in
November 1985 and arrested after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the
Israeli Embassy. He initially denied he worked for Israel, but later
His case has been a sticking point in U.S.-Israeli relations. The
Israeli government, which granted Pollard citizenship, repeatedly has
pressed for his release.
A 1998 U.S.-brokered peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians
nearly foundered when then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu
reportedly linked his agreement to the deal with clemency for
Pollard. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/10/12)
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