NEW YORK (JTA) — Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard urged Israel’s U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, to work for his release during the envoy’s prison visit.
Pollard asked Oren at the federal prison in Butner, N.C., to push Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and President Obama for his release. Oren passed on a personal message from Netanyahu saying that he was committed to doing so.
Pollard, who has served 25 years in prison for spying for Israel when he was a civilian U.S. Navy analyst, had surgery postponed in order to facilitate Oren’s visit. According to his supporters, Pollard has long been in ill health and suffers from extreme pain.
Oren is the first member of Netanyahu’s administration to visit Pollard. The envoy caused an uproar last year when he suggested on a Washington radio show that Pollard had acted for a rogue agency of Israeli intelligence. Netanyahu refuted the claim.
In June, Oren attempted to get Pollard granted compassionate leave to attend the funeral for his father but was unsuccessful.