White House confirms receipt of Pollard clemency letter

(JTA) — President Obama has received a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, requesting clemency for convicted spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard.

"I think it is important to underscore that Mr. Pollard was convicted of some of the most serious crimes that anybody can be charged (with)," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday

“We have received the letter and will review it,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Neither spokesman said how long the review process would take and what steps were involved.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley also confirmed that the State Department had received the letter.

Netanyahu read his letter Tuesday evening to a Knesset plenum discussion.

"At the time of his arrest, Jonathan Pollard was acting as an agent of the Israeli government," Netanyahu wrote in his letter, sent Tuesday. "Even though Israel was in no way directing its intelligence efforts against the United States, its actions were wrong and wholly unacceptable. Both Mr. Pollard and the Government of Israel have repeatedly expressed remorse for these actions, and Israel will continue to abide by its commitment that such wrongful actions will never be repeated."

Netanyahu’s letter, Israel’s first formal request for Pollard’s release, came a day after similar urgings from more than 500 clergy in a letter to Obama.

On Wednesday, Obama also received a letter urging clemency for Pollard from Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree, director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard, who taught both Obama and his wife, Michelle. The president still considers him his mentor and friend, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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