Is Pollard More Guilty?

Danny Leshem - Yediot Ahronot, p.B5 - January 13, 1999 Translated by Israel Government Press Office

It is not widely known that Jonathan Pollard has a Korean American twin who, like him, worked for US Naval Intelligence. While Pollard spied on behalf of Israel, Robert C. Kim spied for South Korea -- passing sensitive, classified information to South Korea's naval attache in Washington. Kim, who was arrested when the FBI exposed the affair in 1996, transferred materials that included top secret documents which American intelligence deemed too sensitive to share with South Korea via official channels.

The Kim affair, like the Pollard case, caused considerable embarrassment to two friendly countries -- in this instance, the US and South Korea. And again, in the case of Kim, thousands of American citizens -- this time, of Korean origin -- working for the US Government and its military, including those in the intelligence community, viewed themselves as compromised.

Pollard made a grave error, as did his Israeli handlers. But Pollard has already paid for his mistake with 12 difficult years of incarceration. How can the tough American stand against Pollard's release be understood, in light of the fact that his Korean colleague was sentenced to a jail term not to exceed ten years -- in contrast to Pollard's life sentence?

Pollard was punished as if he had spied for the KGB and its successor organizations, like Aldrich Ames, the senior CIA official who delivered the names of dozens of American agents in Russia to the Russians -- effectively sentencing them to death. According to Administration officials, the fact that Robert Kim was engaged in espionage on behalf of an American ally worked in his favor. In Pollard's case, however, this fact was not brought to bear. In reality, it may have actually worked against him.

The US took harsh action against Pollard, in terms of both his conviction and his sentence. It is difficult to understand the yet stubborn resistance of the American intelligence community, of the US Administration and Congress, and of former US Secretaries of Defense to releasing Pollard on purely humanitarian grounds. Are the seven former defense secretaries who sent Clinton a letter warning that a Pollard release "would encourage enemies of the United States" not aware of the symmetry between the Kim and Pollard affairs?

See related items on The Kim Case.

See Also:

  • The Schwartz Case
  • Unequal Justice