Former CIA director renews call for Pollard's release

Woolsey tells Obama to stop being hung up about Pollard being a Jew and just release him.

Maya Shwayder - The Jerusalem Post - November 7, 2013

NEW YORK - R. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, called again for the US to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard passed classified information about enemy states to the Israeli government during the 1980s, and has been in jail serving a life sentence for espionage since 1985.

In a two-minute video, recorded on Monday at a conference in Manhattan in which Woolsey took part, Woolsey said: "If you look at other allies of the United States, such as South Korea and the Philippines, where we have caught spies, the sentence that they had has been light, not like Pollard's; it's been about six or seven years. What I said in The Wall Street Journal essentially was that if anybody is hung up over the fact that he's an American Jew or that he's Israeli, just pretend that he's a South Korean and set him free."

In response to a question from the cameraman about what may or may not have happened during the administration of former US president Bill Clinton, under whom Woolsey was CIA director, he said, "At the beginning they asked us all - top-level people who dealt with defense and foreign policy, including me - and I opposed clemency at that point. He'd been in prison about seven or eight years, and I went through the material that he took, and it is very serious, it was very sensitive. So I did not support clemency that time around. But the next time it came up, several years later, I was asked what I thought, and what I said is essentially what I've said ever since."

When asked what he would tell current US President Barack Obama, Woolsey said "I would say [to President Obama] what I said in The Wall Street Journal: If you're hung up on this for any reason, pretend Pollard is a South Korean or Filipino-American or an ally from someplace else, and free him. He's been in prison a long time now, and the only people who are in prison that long are people like [convicted CIA spy Aldrich] Ames and [convicted FBI spy Robert] Hanssen who got people killed, and Pollard didn't do that."

The Wall Street Journal piece to which Woolsey was referring was a letter to the editor Woolsey wrote that was published on July 4, 2012, in which he called for Pollard to be released. Woolsey wrote the letter in response to an opinion piece by Martin Peretz, the publisher of the New Republic, in which Peretz criticized top US officials for calling for Pollard's release.

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