JERUSALEM (Sep. 4)
Health Minister Ya’acov Tsur came under fire over the weekend for urging U.S. authorities to release Anne Henderson Pollard from jail.
Tsur insisted Monday that his plea for clemency implied no change in Israel’s policy of refraining from intervention in the Pollard spy case. The Laborite minister said his public appeal was a humanitarian gesture and had been coordinated with the top government leadership.
Pollard is serving two concurrent five-year prison terms for of possession of classified documents in connection with the espionage activities of her husband, Jonathan Jay Pollard. The former U.S. Navy civilian employee was sentenced to life imprisonment for spying for Israel.
A movement has developed in the United States and Israel for the early release of Anne Pollard, who is suffering from a debilitating intestinal disease.
She is presently confined at the Federal Prison Camp in Danbury, Conn., and was denied early parole last month. Although officially eligible for furloughs, she was recently told she will not be released for the High Holy Days.
Israel has distanced itself from the Pollard case since it surfaced in 1985. The official position has been that Pollard’s recruitment and spying was a rogue operation conducted without the knowledge or approval of top Israeli authorities.
Tsur’s plea was joined by the Association of Prisoners of Zion, an Israeli group active in the past on behalf of Soviet Jews imprisoned in the Soviet Union for Zionist activities.