Clemency for Pollard, Jailed as a Spy for Israel

Seymour Reich - The New York Times [Letters] - March 19, 2013

Re "Obama's Visit to Israel Renews Effort to Free a Spy" (news article, March 18): The treatment of Jonathan Jay Pollard has smacked of vindictiveness from the outset, as demonstrated by the prosecutor's declaration from the courthouse steps that Mr. Pollard will never be freed. He pleaded guilty to passing classified information to Israel and deserved jail time. But his plea agreement came with the expectation that his sentence would be less than life. The usual prison sentence for spying for friendly countries is four to five years.

Mr. Pollard was initially incarcerated in a hospital for the criminally insane, though he was not insane. It was only when former Representative Lee Hamilton intervened that Mr. Pollard was moved out - to a maximum-security prison in Illinois, where he was held in solitary confinement for almost seven years. When Elie Wiesel and I visited him there, he expressed remorse for his deeds and has done so publicly since.

As you report, he has served for 28 years, and "a growing number" of former American officials "have called for clemency." When President Obama returns from Israel, he should release Mr. Pollard on humanitarian grounds.

The writer, a lawyer, is former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

A version of this letter appeared in print on March 20, 2013, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Clemency for Pollard, Jailed as a Spy for Israel.

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