Citing FALN Release, Pollard Says Me Too
Asks Clinton to use 'same standards' applied in clemency of Puerto
NY Jewish Week - September 17, 1999 - Stewart Ain , Staff Writer
In the wake of the presidential clemency awarded 11 Puerto Rican
activists, imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is asking President
Bill Clinton to apply the "same standards in my case" and release him.
"I can only hope that the president will see that by commuting my
sentence, he would be underscoring his administration's commitment to
due process and fair play," Pollard told The Jewish Week in message
relayed from the federal prison in Butner, N.C.
In granting clemency to the Puerto Rican activists, Clinton acted
against the recommendation of the FBI, Bureau of Prisons and several
U.S. attorneys general. Similarly, the intelligence community and the
State Department have come out against clemency for Pollard.
"He has cited these negative stands in justifying his decisions to turn
down my requests for clemency in the past," said Pollard. "What we know
now is that he totally disregarded these negative views" in granting
clemency to the Puerto Ricans.
In justifying his action, Clinton explained that none of the prisoners
released last Friday was convicted of any bombings and that they had
served long sentences for offenses that did not directly harm others.
All had belonged to the radical pro-independence Puerto Rican group
known as the FALN, which was responsible for more than 130 bombings in
New York and Chicago during the 1970s and '80s that killed six people
and injured dozens. They were convicted of seditious conspiracy and
possession of weapons and explosives.
Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst who has served 14 years in
prison for leaking U.S. military secrets to Israel during the early
1980s, said he meets the same criteria Clinton established in freeing
the Puerto Rican nationalists. He said that just as they were required
to renounce violence, he has vowed "not to go back to spying."
And the length of his prison term, Pollard said, is longer than "anyone
else in the history of the United States has served for similar
"I have stated on every available occasion my deep and unqualified
remorse for what I did. I have stated to the president in writing that I
wish I had acted within the bounds of the law in my concerns for
Israel's security. There is no excuse for what I did. It was a terrible
lapse of judgment on my part. Nothing good came out of my actions. And
they certainly should not be seen as a model for others to emulate. I
was scared for Israel's security and acted out of fear, not judgment."
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who has long called for the release of
Pollard, said regardless of the president's clemency for the Puerto
Ricans, "I hope he will get out because of humanitarian reasons. He
deserves compassion and has suffered enough. He has expressed contrition
and regret. "In the days of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, when we plead
to God for compassion, let us plead that man has compassion."
Another Pollard supporter, Seymour Reich, former chairman of the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said:
"Hopefully the president will commute his sentence and exercise
Supporters of Pollard, led by Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), last
month began pressing Hillary Rodham Clinton, an all-but-declared New
York senatorial candidate, to intervene with the president on their
behalf. Mrs. Clinton's spokesman, Howard Wolfson, has said she would not
comment pending the completion of a review of the Pollard case by the
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said he believed Pollard should be
New York City's public advocate, Mark Green, who spent two hours with
Pollard two weeks ago, wrote to the president this week seeking
clemency. He told The Jewish Week that it is "not helpful to compare his
unique case" to others because Pollard "was sentenced for a crime he was
never indicted or convicted of treason. He was sentenced to life in
prison for charges that have never seen the light of day in court and
have never been corroborated. That's outrageous and Kafkaesque."
Although some of Pollard's supporters have suggested that Pollard might
have a better chance of clemency were he to maintain a low profile for
six months, Green, who is expected to run for mayor, rejected that
assertion. "It is essential that those who believe he has served a
disproportionate sentence for his admitted crime should now publicly
rebut the slander campaign that confuses espionage for an ally with
treason for an enemy," said Green. "It's a miscarriage of justice."
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