JERUSALEM (JTA) — Outgoing Israeli President Shimon Peres said after meeting with Esther Pollard that on his U.S. trip, he will raise her request with American officials to free her imprisoned husband on humanitarian grounds.
Peres met Sunday with Esther Pollard and the heads of the Knesset Caucus to free Jonathan Pollard — lawmakers Nachman Shai and Ayelet Shaked — ahead of his trip this week to meet with President Obama and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“It is a national responsibility to work to free Pollard; I will speak to the president of the United States on behalf of the people of Israel,” Peres said. “I intend to do this during my meetings in Congress and at the White House.”
Esther Pollard said she was grateful to Peres for receiving the group so close to his departure to the United States.
“Jonathan’s health has deteriorated and his situation is serious,” she said at the meeting, according to the Israeli President’s Office. “I hope that now, after 30 years, your request for his release will be heard.”
Pollard is in the 29th year of a life sentence in a U.S. federal prison for spying for Israel while working as a civilian Navy intelligence analyst.