Critical Report on US Trial of Pollard and Efforts to Free Him

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu - - Sept. 3, 2009

In a report released Thursday, government Comptroller and Ombudsman Micha Lindenstrauss stated that Jonathan Pollard may not have been given a fair trial in the United States. He also partially criticized several Israel governments which have conducted efforts to free Pollard from his American prison cell.

Pollard is serving a

life sentence

, an unprecedented term for his offense of turning over classified information on behalf of Israel, considered one of America's most trusted allies. Similar offenses generally result in a jail term of approximately four years, but the U.S. has refused to recommend a pardon that would end his nearly 24 years in prison,

Lindenstrauss, a retired judge, included in his report an opinion from American criminal law expert Professor Kenneth Mann, who wrote that American prosecutors and judges may have denied Pollard his rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

He also stated that Israeli government representatives failed to provide superiors with testimonies of their activities on behalf of Pollard, making it impossible to coordinate efforts with prime ministers and other senior officials who brought up the issue with American presidents.

The Comptroller noted that the government also did not coordinate its efforts among many officials who have acted on Pollard's behalf and stated that Israel "owes Pollard the mitzvah of releasing captives and it's better late than never, in light of his frail health."

He recommended that the issue be put in the hands of a ministerial committee, including ministers of Justice, Security and Foreign Affairs, all of whom should be meet from time to time to discuss efforts to free Pollard.

Knesset Member Otniel Shneller (Kadima) said after the Comptroller's report was issued, "I expect Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to be summoned to the committee in the near future and explain how to put the Comptroller's recommendations into effect."

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