WASHINGTON — Calling it a “cheap publicity stunt,” Jonathan Pollard says he will not accept the $1 million reportedly offered by the Israeli government to cover expenses incurred during his imprisonment.
“They can take that offer and put it where the sun doesn’t shine,” Pollard told JTA in an exclusive statement from prison in Butner, N.C.
Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who is serving a life sentence for spying on behalf of Israel, said he was “shocked and dismayed” to learn of the offer through the Israeli press, and that he has never sought money, only assistance for his clemency.
“The only thing I have asked them is to get me out of prison and bring me home,” Pollard said. “That’s all I’ve asked.”
Pollard said the offer was a way of deflecting attention from his case.
According to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, a special grant of $1 million to help Pollard was recommended by Israeli Cabinet Minister Danny Naveh and approved by two committees, one headed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s military liaison and the other headed by the Defense Ministry’s deputy director.
The committees determined this week that a grant of $1 million would sufficiently pay expenses for Pollard and his wife, Esther, who lives in Canada. The amount is based on $5,000 for every month Pollard has spent in jail.
Esther Pollard told JTA that neither she nor their attorneys had received an official offer of money. Despite the fact that she is “deeply in debt,” Esther Pollard said she will return the check if and when she receives it.
“We don’t want blood money, and we don’t want to dirty ourselves,” she said. “We will make it to the finish line clean.”
Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted in 1987, has received support from numerous American Jewish groups and leaders, but was unable to secure a reprieve from President Clinton.
He came very close during the Wye River peace negotiations in 1998, when President Clinton reportedly promised to free him as part of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. But Clinton eventually backed out after American law-enforcement officials threatened to resign in protest.
From his prison cell, Pollard said his freedom should be a matter of principle, and that the United States has already promised to bring him home.
“My case, my life, the issues involved, are not a matter of dollars and cents,” he said. “My freedom is not on the block.”