While President Barack Obama recently said he has no immediate plans to grant clemency to convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, national Jewish organizations are maintaining their request for his timely release.
Thirty Jewish groups who are part of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Tuesday asked Obama to free Pollard, who is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally (Israel), before the “milestone” of his 10,000th day in prison arrives April 8.
“Among those who have called for [Pollard’s] release are former director of the CIA, James Woolsey, former undersecretary of defense, Lawrence Korb, former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and former secretary of state, George Schultz,” Conference of Presidents chair Richard Stone and executive vice chair Malcolm Hoenlein told Obama in a statement. “We add our voice to theirs, as we have in the past, to ask that you take the steps necessary to expedite the review process you have mentioned and to facilitate the release of Mr. Pollard in an act of both justice and humanity.”
Obama had told Israeli Channel 2 News last week, “I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately, but what I am going to be doing is to make sure that he is accorded the same kinds of review as others. I recognize the emotions involved in this. One of the strengths of the Israeli people is that you think about your people wherever they are.”
“As president my first obligation is to observe the law here in the U.S,” Obama said. “I need to make sure that every individual is treated fairly and equally.”
More than 200,000 people — including Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, former Hamas captive Gilad Shalit, and Jewish Agency for Israel head Natan Sharansky — have signed a petition asking Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence, and on Tuesday about 5,000 people demonstrated for Pollard’s release outside of Israeli President Shimon Peres’s residence in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported.