The 29th year in prison begins on Thursday for Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, but Pollard’s wife Esther said on Wednesday that they have not lost hope that President Obama will sign his release.
“It is a terrible blow to Jonathan and to me that all the anguish and suffering he has endured for a full 28 years in prison now continues into year 29,” Esther Pollard said. “We had such high hopes that this nightmare anniversary would not occur again. After all the recent developments, we really hoped that by now we would be recovering from our ordeal and rebuilding our life, that we would finally live together here in Israel and get on with our life together.”
Pollard was arrested 28 years ago outside the Israeli embassy in Washington.
Mrs. Pollard said she was heartened by the numerous senior American officials who have come out in support of her husband’s release, the declassification of materials exonerating him and many other factors. She called upon Obama to commute the sentence of her husband, whose health is deteriorating, as a matter of compassion and mercy.
Israeli MKs Hilik Bar (Labor), Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) and David Azulai (Shas) jointly called for Pollard’s release during a special discussion in the Knesset plenum. Bar said the effort to bring Pollard home is non-partisan.
He added that the U.S., which sought to villify Pollard, had made him a hero for keeping him behind bars so long.
“Pollard paid a price for his actions that are higher and heavier than usual,” Bar said. “He should be allowed to go home to Israel and his family.”
The government’s liaison to the Knesset, deputy minister Ophir Akunis (Likud) rejected charges that the government was not doing enough to bring Pollard home. He said the issue was in the hands not of the Israeli government but of the president of the United States.