If Pope, Then Pollard

US Request For Release Of Pope Spurs Parallel Request For Release Of Pollard

Media Release - National Council of Young Israel - December 11, 2000

NEW YORK - The leadership of the Young Israel movement has asked the Clinton administration to grant clemency to Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard on humanitarian grounds similar to those upon which the U.S. government is now asking Russia to release Edmond Pope, an American citizen convicted of spying against Russia and sentenced December 6 to 20 years in a maximum-security prison. Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, the National President of the National Council of Young Israel, noted that, Pollard, who has served fifteen years in federal prison of a life sentence for passing classified information to the State of Israel, is also suffering from severe health problems, and may have been denied due process of law. These are the same points which the American government has raised with the Russians on behalf of Mr.Pope.

Mr. Mostofsky noted many other parallels between Pollard's case and that of Mr. Pope, whose plight is also of great concern to us, as Americans.

The Russians might very well take our government's request for leniency on behalf of Mr. Pope more seriously if President Clinton were to accept those same arguments in the case of Jonathan Pollard. Several Israeli prime ministers have asked President Clinton for clemency on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, and there is a serious reason to question whether Mr. Pollard received due process of law with regard to his legal representation, the secret testimony which was the basis for his unusually severe life sentence, and the violation by the government of its original plea bargain agreement with Mr. Pollard. He also recalled that just as the US government is now asking for clemency for Edmond Pope, every Israeli prime minister since Yitzchak Rabin has asked President Clinton for Pollard's release.

Pope, a retired U.S. Navy officer, was convicted in a Russian court of illegally obtaining classified blueprints of a high-speed underwater torpedo. Ever since his April 3 arrest, he has insisted on his innocence, saying that the plans were not secret because they had already been sold abroad and were published in open sources.

According to a State Department spokesman, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright telephoned Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to stress U.S. concern over Pope's heath (he suffers from a rare form of bone cancer, and reports experiencing symptoms of a relapse since his arrest) and to urge his release from prison. White House, spokesman Jake Siewert demanded Pope's release on humanitarian grounds."We think he hasn't had proper medical care there - that it's important that the Russian government recognize on humanitarian grounds that he should be allowed to return to the United States and receive proper medical care," Siewert said.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, who remains in direct contact with Pollard by telephone on almost a daily basis, notes that Jonathan Pollard now suffers from a variety of health problems because the early years of his sentence were spent in solitary confinement, in an unhealthful environment three stories underground. In federal prison, he has been denied the advanced medical care which he needs.

Rabbi Lerner notes that Pollard was indicted on only one criminal charge: one count of passing classified information to an ally, Israel, without intent to harm the United States. The median sentence for such an offense is two to four years in prison. Pollard is the only person ever to receive a life sentence for the offense, and he has already served more time in jail for this crime than anyone else in American history.

The National Council of Young Israel is the parent organization of the Young Israel movement, with over 150 member Orthodox synagogues throughout North America and 60 in Israel.

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