WASHINGTON (JTA) – The U.S. stance denying clemency to Jonathan Pollard remains the same for now, a White House spokesman said, despite the plea by Israeli President Shimon Peres.
"Our position has not changed and will not change today," Jay Carney said Wednesday. "And I would simply remind you that Mr. Pollard was convicted of extremely serious crimes."
A succession of presidents has refused to grant clemency to Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who spied for Israel, since he was sentenced to life in 1987.
Peres, in Washington to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama on Wednesday, said he would ask Obama in a private meeting before the ceremony to consider granting clemency to Pollard.
Carney delivered his comments to the media at the midday daily briefing, just before Obama and Peres met.
The calls to release Pollard, who is said to be in ill health, have intensified in recent months, with pleas from lawmakers and former top officials of both parties.
Ronald Rodgers, the pardon attorney of the U.S. Department of Justice, has told those pleading for Pollard’s release that his case is under consideration, at the same time saying that he cannot predict when a decision will be made.