Salmon wants Obama to commute Israeli spy's sentence

Dan Nowicki - Arizona Republic - March 19, 2013

Dan Nowicki, The Arizona Republic's national political reporter, filed this post:

Rep. Matt Salmon is urging President Barack Obama to commute the prison sentence of Jonathan Pollard, the Jewish American who was convicted of spying for Israel in a sensational 1980s case.

Obama, who will visit Israel this week, recently signaled that he isn't inclined to release Pollard any time soon. Pollard, 58, was arrested in 1985 for giving classified information to Israel and received a life sentence for espionage in 1987. Israel granted him citizenship in 1995 and on May 11, 1998, acknowledged that he was an Israeli agent. An official website and Facebook page continue to advocate on Pollard's behalf.

Salmon, an Arizona Republican who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, cited Pollard's remorse and failing health in his message to Obama. His entire statement follows.

"As President Obama departs for his first official trip to Israel, I call on him to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard to time served. Pollard is now in his 28th year of incarceration and is reported to have failing health. I have personally met with Pollard and reviewed his case. With full knowledge and appreciation of his letter of remorse, I wrote to President Obama on previous occasions and penned an op-ed publicly calling for Pollard's release.

"Interestingly enough, Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu is the only Israeli prime minister who has visited Jonathan Pollard, and, over two years ago publicly wrote a letter to the president of the United States apologizing for Israel's actions in the matter, committing Israel to not repeat such actions, and requesting his release. This trip clearly is an opportune time to resolve this issue. Those who dealt with the ramifications of Pollard's actions at the time, namely Secretary of State George Schultz, National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane, Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, Chairman of Senate Intelligence David Durenberger and Chairman of House Intelligence Lee Hamilton have all publicly called for Pollard's release. The President has had more than enough time to review the case. This would be a good start to improving our relations in Israel and is the right thing to do. Mr. President, the time is now to release Jonathan Pollard."

Former Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., previously argued for Pollard's release in a Jan. 22, 2012, guest column for The Arizona Republic.

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