In 16 Years Israel Has Never Done for Me
What Barak Did for Rich in 16 Days - Jonathan Pollard

Yediot Achronot - Exclusive - February 20, 2001

by Eran Tiffenbraun and Mody Kreitman

Jonathan Pollard, in prison in the United States for his activities on behalf of Israel, was stunned to discover that his request for clemency was linked to a pardon request for a wealthy fugitive from the law, Mark Rich. White House officials: "Rich's people pushed Barak to do it that way because they were counting on Clinton not freeing Pollard and on his giving them the pardon for Rich as a consolation prize." Barak's office: "There was no connection between the two requests."

"For 16 years I have been waving the flag of Israel, crying out to the Israeli political establishment for help. But with the Marc Rich clemency campaign, I realize that I made a mistake. I should have been waving bags of money instead to get their attention. These are the depths that Israel's leaders have sunk to."

This is how Jonathan Pollard reacted when he learned that Prime Minister Ehud Barak had linked his request for commutation to the pardon request of the criminal fugitive, Marc Rich.

A Yediot Achronot exclusive investigation to be published this Thursday in the weekend supplement "7DAYS" reveals that billionaire Rich - who fled the US when he was indicted 18 years ago for racketeering, for trading with the enemy, Iran, and for evading 48 million dollars in taxes, and who since then has been wanted by the FBI - had his people assign Ehud Barak the key role in securing a pardon for Rich.

E-mails between Jack Quinn, Rich's US attorney, and Avner Azulay, Rich's Israeli representative, reveal that the two sought to link the Rich pardon request to Pollard's request, assuming that Clinton would refuse Pollard. They hoped that Clinton would then at least feel obliged to pardon Rich.

The Rich pardon, which Clinton granted during his final hours in office, has aroused a storm of protest in the United States, particularly when it was discovered that Rich's ex-wife, Denise, donated millions of dollars to the National Democratic Party and to Clinton. Only now is Israel's involvement in the affair beginning to come to light.

According to White House sources testifying before a Congressional investigation, at the end of Clinton's term Ehud Barak telephoned him at least three times and brought up the two requests for clemency, linked. The last phone call occurred two days before Clinton left office.

According to one of Clinton's people, George Stephanopoulos, "Barak asked for both. He asked for Rich and he asked for Pollard. He knew that Clinton wouldn't grant clemency to Pollard. Rich gave a huge amount of money to Israeli charities and also to the [Labor/One Israel] party."

Barak's office has responded: "The Prime Minister has worked ceaselessly and at every opportunity for the release of Pollard. By comparison, the Rich matter was simply a marginal issue that he mentioned to the President in the course of a telephone conversation about another matter entirely - no connection whatsoever to Pollard." With regard to Rich's contributions to political figures in Israel, Barak's office responded: " The Prime Minister does not deal with such matters, and he has no idea about or interest in such questions."

Read the full story on Friday, in the Yediot Achronot weekend supplement, "7DAYS".

See Also:
  • The Clemency Page
  • Israel's Role In Pardon Questioned