Ambassador To U.S. Visits Pollard In Jail

The Jerusalem Post - May 18, 2005 - staff

Israel's Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon was to meet Jonathon Pollard in his cell in an a North Carolina prison for the first time Tuesday, as part of Israel's stepped up efforts to gain the release of the convicted spy.

Sources in the embassy said that Ayalon was bringing a message of support and encouragement from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Army Radio reported.

Pollard, a former US navy intelligence analyst, was given a life sentence 19 years ago for passing classified information to Israel. As a result of previous legal action in Israel, Pollard was given Israeli citizenship in 1996 and later officially recognized as an Israeli agent.

Last week Pollard petitioned the High Court of Justice demanding that he be recognized as a Prisoner of Zion, a move aimed at putting more pressure on the government to secure his release.

The move evidently had an effect, evidenced a day later when Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom announced that Israel had decided to take 'concrete' steps towards Pollard's release. Influential Israelis would begin visiting him in prison as part of a support campaign, Shalom said.

"'In principle, our opinion is that 20 years is a long period, perhaps too long, and the time has come for him to be released and come to Israel as a new immigrant," Shalom said.

Pollard's petition also included claims that he was subject to "cruel" mistreatment and torture during his years in prison.

The ministry's Prisoner of Zion Authority last year rejected a petition on Pollard's behalf as his case did not fit the criteria in the law. It said spying could not be considered a Zionist activity that is outlawed in the foreign country, in addition to the fact that the US is not an enemy country and Zionism is not illegal there.

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