WASHINGTON [MENL] -- A senior House member has asserted that U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, imprisoned since 1985, was no longer a threat to national security.
Rep. Robert Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat, has urged President Barack Obama to free Pollard, who has served 27 years of a life sentence for relaying classified information to Israel. Andrews, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that Pollard no longer possesses any classified information of use to a foreign country.
"If Mr. Pollard were released today he would pose no threat to national security and any intelligence that he once possessed is undoubtedly irrelevant 27 years later," Andrews said.
The letter to Obama came amid a campaign in Congress to lobby for Pollard's release. Scores of House and Senate members have signed a letter to Obama calling for the release of Pollard, said to have served more time than anybody else convicted of a similar offense. Over the last 25 years, Egyptian and Saudi defendants charged with relaying U.S. defense secrets have been sentenced to as little as two years in prison.
"Commutation will not grant him pardon for his actions rather it will recognize that he has served more than ample time for his crime," Andrews said. "I urge you to seriously consider this case and decide to commute Jonathan Pollard's life sentence to time-served."
Andrews, a House member since 1990, cited support for Pollard's release by former CIA director James Woolsey, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Dennis DeConcini and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The letter, dated June 13, said Pollard was not given a trial and cited the rejection of a plea bargain deal for a 10-year sentence by the presiding judge. Obama, despite a plea earlier this month by Israeli President Shimon Peres, has not responded to the Pollard campaign.
"The length of this sentence is unprecedented as the median sentence for passing classified intelligence to an ally is between two and four years," Andrews said. "In fact, Mr. Pollard has served even longer than many who have been convicted of spying for enemies of the United States."
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