Bipartisan letter urging Pollardís release circulated in House
JTA Updated 06:50 AM EST 12.12.12
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- A letter is being circulated in the U.S. House of
Representatives urging President Obama to commute Jonathan Pollard's life
sentence to time served.
"Mr. Pollard has now served 25 years in prison, many of which in solitary
confinement, for his actions," says the letter circulated by Reps. Chris
Smith (R-N.J.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). "There is no doubt that he paid a
heavy price and, from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence, we
believe he has been imprisoned long enough."
The letter has so far garnered 40 signatories, mostly from Democrats, but
with an increasing number of Republicans.
A similar bid in 2010 drew only Democrats. But the latest letter, and
Smith's leadership role in circulating it, are signs that Pollard's
advocates have made inroads among Republicans, who have tended to sympathize
with arguments in the national security community that Pollard's crimes were
so grave he should never be released.
Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst arrested in 1986, was given a life
sentence in 1987 for spying for Israel. In recent years, Pollard, 58, has
suffered illnesses and has occasionally been hospitalized.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on
Monday praised the latest initiative, although the letter is still
circulating and has yet to be sent.
"As we are in the holiday season it would be a particularly appropriate time
to heed the appeal of the many leaders from a wide variety of spheres of
American life, in addition to the many members of Congress who have appealed
for his release," said the Presidents' Conference in a statement. "This
includes people who were involved in the case or others who were initially
opposed to any act of clemency."