Kol Yisrael Interview with Esther Pollard
As Jonathan Pollard Begins His 16th Year in Prison

Kol Yisrael Radio News - November 21, 2000

Former US naval intelligence officer, Jonathan Pollard, has begun the 16th year of his life sentence for spying on behalf of Israel. Pollard's wife, Esther, says Jonathan's health is deteriorating in prison. The Prime Minister's office says Israel continues to ask for his release. Idele Ross reports:

Convicted U.S. spy Jonathan Pollard began the 16th year of a life sentence in a North Carolina prison after filing a new motion in Federal Court. The former Naval officer is seeking a new hearing because his new lawyers say he was unjustly sentenced.

Esther Pollard married Jonathan while he was in jail and has ceasesly campaigned for his release. She refuses to be comforted by official statements that Israel has neither forgotten nor abandoned her husband.

Sixteen years ago this week, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who was at the time the head of Israeli Military Intelligence, met with his US counterpart in America to discuss the newly-breaking Pollard case. It was at that meeting, 16 years ago, that Mr. Barak set the policy of abandonment that has continued to this day.

To this very day, Jonathan Pollard remains abandoned in the extreme by the Government of Israel that enlisted him to work in America. Jonathan receives no assistance - legally, medically, morally, financially - no assistance whatsoever from the Government of Israel.

Jonathan Pollard pleaded guilty to one count of turning classified intelligence information over to Israel. Many U.S. and Israeli law experts have commented on the harshness of the life sentence, noting that Pollard is the only person in US history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. However Defense Secretary at the time, Casper Weinberger, was quoted as saying that Pollard had done more damage to the United States than several Soviet spies. According to Esther Pollard, her husband's new legal case refutes such claims.

Jonathan on his own, together with his attorneys, Elliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of New York, has filed a legal case in America. The case unequivocally demonstrates that Jonathan was unjustly sentenced on the basis of falsehood and lies.

It would be very easy for Mr. Barak to go to Mr. Clinton and say, "Listen we're supposed to be good friends and strong allies, and [this new legal case shows] our agent was sentenced on the basis of falsehood and lies. [Moreover, he was prosecuted] on the basis of documents that Israel provided, which you promised not to use against him, but you did. Now let him go. You've done this evil to him for fifteen years, now let him go." That simply hasn't happened.

In an official response, the Prime Minister's office says efforts continue to procure Pollard's early release but cannot publicize the details of those efforts. Esther charges that both Prime Minister Ehud Barak and U.S. President Bill Clinton refuse to deal with the case.

The Government's claim that they are working behind the scenes for Jonathan's release for 16 years, is laughable.

I'd like to repeat that in approximately 60 days President Clinton will be leaving office. He has ducked the Pollard case for 8 years. He has been reviewing it for 8 years. He promised that he would do a speedy review after Wye, in 1998 - after reneging on his promise to free Jonathan as an integral part of the Wye Accords.

Mr. Clinton has, over the years, repeatedly broken faith with Israel and Jonathan Pollard is just one example of it. Israel has never protested.

Do you think that a new American administration will make a difference?

As long as the Government of Israel keeps signaling to Washington that Jonathan Pollard is not important, and that Washington can continue to exploit him for other political ends, the abandonment of Jonathan Pollard will continue.

It will not make any difference whether there is a new administration or not. We've been through this song-and-dance routine about waiting for a change of administration 4 times, through 4 different administrations!

Jonathan's health is deteriorating, says Esther, who will be visiting him at the North Carolina prison tomorrow. She charges that Pollard is not receiving appropriate treatment in prison for a severe gall bladder condition and a number of other medical problems.

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