Citing FALN Release, Pollard Says Me Too

Asks Clinton to use 'same standards' applied in clemency of Puerto Rican activists

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 actions."

"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 clemency."

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 White House.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said he believed Pollard should be freed.

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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