Dershowitz among legal scholars urging Obama to release Pollard


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ten leading legal scholars, including Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, urged President Obama to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard.

Others who signed the June 20 letter include Irwin Cotler, the former Canadian justice minister, and Nadine Stroessen, the former ACLU president. The letter was released Tuesday by its signers.

The scholars, including six from Harvard Law School, where Obama earned his law degree, outlined nine considerations they say merit the release of Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy analyst who is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel.

Among them are what they deem is an excessive sentence for his crime; the fact that an array of former U.S. officials who were in office when Pollard was a spy now advocate his release; and what they describe as the prejudicial interference in his 1987 sentencing by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.

“Mr. President, it is precisely for standing injustices like this – and where the justice system has failed and cannot provide relief – that the U.S. Constitution has vested in the President the power of executive clemency,” according to the letter. “We urge you to exercise this power in the pursuit of justice, the rule of law and simple humanity.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres said that he would press Pollard’s case this week during his final visit to the United States in an official capacity.

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