R. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, has renewed his call for the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.
Woolsey stressed the disproportionately harsh punishment meted out to Pollard: “If you look at other allies of the United States, such as South Korea and the Philippines, where we have caught spies, the sentence that they had has been light, not like Pollard’s; it’s been about six or seven years,” he said in a brief statement on video.
In the video, Woolsey recalled a letter to the editor he published in The Wall Street Journal last year, in which he said, “If anybody is hung up over the fact that he’s an American Jew or that he’s Israeli, just pretend that he’s a South Korean and set him free.”
When asked what he would say to President Obama, Woolsey said, “I would say what I said in [that letter]: If you’re hung up on this for any reason, pretend Pollard is a South Korean or Filipino-American or an ally from someplace else, and free him.
“He’s been in prison a long time now, and the only people who are in prison that long are people like [convicted CIA spy Aldrich] Ames and [convicted FBI spy Robert] Hanssen, who got people killed, and Pollard didn’t do that.”
In response to a question about his own position while serving as CIA director during the Clinton administration, Woolsey said, “At the beginning … they asked us all — top-level people who dealt with defense and foreign policy, including me — and I opposed clemency at that point. He’d been in prison about seven or eight years, and I went through the material that he took, and it is very serious, it was very sensitive. So I did not support clemency that time around.
“But the next time it came up, several years later, I was asked what I thought, and what I said is essentially what I’ve said ever since.”
Pollard passed classified information about enemy countries to the Israeli government during the 1980s and has been serving a life sentence for espionage since 1985.