Now Let's Talk Clemency
New York Post - EXCLUSIVE - September 2, 2000
by Gregg Birnbaum
Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard's wife wrote to Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday, seeking a meeting "as soon as possible" to discuss possible clemency for her husband, The Post has learned.
A "grateful" Esther Pollard contacted Clinton "wife to wife" after The Post reported Thursday that the Democratic Senate candidate moved to block Pollard's transfer to a potentially dangerous unit in the federal prison where he is serving a life sentence.
Mrs. Pollard said Clinton's actions on behalf of her husband demonstrated for the first time that the first lady cares about his welfare.
"It is my hope that, upon further discussion, wife to wife, your humanitarian concern for the fate of my husband may be publicly expressed in more specific terms as a concern for judicial equity, due process and the rule of law, Pollard wrote, referring to the possibility of clemency.
Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson responded: "We look forward to discussing this invitation with Mrs. Pollard, or Mr. Pollard's representatives."
Mrs. Pollard, who lives in Canada, is in regular telephone contact with her husband, who is incarcerated at Butner federal prison in North Carolina.
A former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who passed military secrets to Israel, Pollard pleaded guilty to spying and has been behind bars for 15 years.
Israel has admitted Pollard was a spy for the Jewish state and has sought his freedom. The Pollard case also has become an issue in the Senate race, where Jewish votes are crucial.
Under a special arrangement because of concerns about his safety, Pollard has been housed for the past seven years in a small unit used primarily to house sex offenders.
The Pollard case has become an issue in the Senate race, where Jewish votes are crucial.
His supporters feared prison officials, for budgetary reasons, were about to transfer him to a unit housing more-violent inmates, and that Pollard might face attack.
Mrs. Pollard, who declined to discuss the letter, said in it that she was disturbed the issue of her husband being moved within the prison had become public.
"If a silver lining is to be found, perhaps it is that I am aware for the first time of your humanitarian interest in my husband's welfare," she wrote to Clinton.
Pollard's supporters, including state Assemblynian Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), have urged Clinton to support clemency for Pollard, arguing his sentence is much harsher than terms other spies have received.