JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres met with the wife of Jonathan Pollard, who asked Peres to request her husband’s release "before it is too late."
Esther Pollard met with Peres in Jerusalem on Sunday, two days after her husband reportedly was rushed to the hospital suffering from an unspecified emergency condition.
An official at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex told JTA on April 6 that Pollard, 57, was returned to the North Carolina complex, where he is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel.
However, Pollard’s representatives later told JTA that prison officials are authorized, for security reasons, to inform media only that Pollard is a convict at the prison and to offer no further information. Pollard’s representatives said he is at the Federal Hospital, about four miles from his prison, is on IV and not able to eat. They said he is conscious and alert.
Peres reportedly told Esther Pollard that he may file an official request later Sunday with President Obama to pardon her husband. Obama announced last month that he would award Peres with the presidential Medal of Freedom in June; a petition signed by more than 35,000 Israelis has called on Peres to link the awarding of the medal to clemency for Pollard. Former captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit signed the petition last week.
"I appeal to you as Jonathan’s wife so that you might use your influence because I do not want to be his widow,". Esther Pollard reportedly told Peres on Sunday. "Jonathan’s strength is slipping away, and I do not know what will happen the next time I receive a telephone call about his health problems.”
“I am very disturbed and worried by the latest reports on Jonathan’s health," Peres said during the meeting.
Peres said that in trying to expedite Pollard’s release, "I intend to work quickly, taking into account the most serious considerations, and to appeal to President Obama and request that, in light of his severe health situation and after having sat for many long years in an American prison, he positively consider releasing Jonathan Pollard from prison."
Pollard, who has been imprisoned since 1986, reportedly has suffered from a variety of illnesses.
Peres reportedly discussed Pollard earlier Sunday during a meeting with Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. The Israeli president reportedly promised Amar that he would work to secure Pollard’s release.