Israel Wants U.S., Egypt to Release Spies

Reuters - July 22, 2000

DISCLAIMER:This news report should not be construed as an endorsement by Justice4JP of the developments that are reported. See:Justice4JP's Position on Pollard & Camp David.

CAIRO, July 22 (Reuters) - Israel is seeking the release of two of its spies, Jonathan Pollard and Azzam Azzam, as part of any new Middle East peace deal, the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat said on Saturday.

"Sources said that the Israelis consider their efforts (to secure the release of the two men) would help (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Barak against Israeli opposition if he made some concessions to the Palestinians," the newspaper said.

Israeli negotiators at the Cape David peace talks have raised the cases of Pollard, a former U.S. naval intelligence official arrested in in 1985 and sentenced to life in 1987 for passing military secrets to Israel, and Azzam, an Israeli businessman jailed by Egypt in 1997 for spying, Al-Hayat said.

Quoting a former Israeli negotiator, the paper said U.S. President Bill Clinton had promised Barak's predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, that he would pardon Pollard before the Israelis and Palestinians signed the 1998 Wye River agreement.

But CIA director George Tenet had threatened to resign over the issue, forcing Clinton to retract his offer.

Israel has long pressed for the release of Pollard, who has served 14 years of a life sentence. It also insists that Azzam, who is three years into a 15-year jail term, is innocent and should be freed.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has in the past firmly rejected outside pressure for Azzam's release, saying he cannot interfere in the judicial process.

See Also:
  • Is Pollard a Camp David Bargaining Chip?