18 ex-senators make plea for Pollard’s release


 WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bipartisan slate of former U.S. senators urged President Obama to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard.

"We do not condone espionage, nor do we underestimate the gravity of Pollard’s crime," says the Oct. 26 letter released to the public on Monday by advocates for Pollard and signed by 18 former senators. "But it is patently clear that Mr. Pollard’s sentence is severely disproportionate and (as several federal judges have noted) a gross miscarriage of justice."

The breadth of the signatories is significant because until recently, most of the pleas for clemency for Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst sentenced to life in 1987 for spying for Israel, have come from Democrats.

A number of the signatories have served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, including Sens. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and David Durenberger (R-Minn.).

That position would have made them privy to information about Pollard’s crimes that has never been released.

The letter cites Pollard’s ill health.

"After more than two decades in the harshest prison conditions, Mr. Pollard’s health is declining," it said. "He has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions as has the State of Israel, and by all accounts has served as a model prisoner."

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