Former U.S. Deputy National Security adviser Elliott Abrams publicly joined the campaign to secure the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard on Thursday.
“I think that here is a just and a humanitarian case for his release,” Abrams said in an interview with i24News.
With his decision, Abrams joins a long list of distinguished former senior U.S. officials who have urged President Barack Obama to free Pollard after almost 29 years in jail.
“I don’t think he’s a hero,” Abrams said, “but the way to judge it is by the normal treatment like other cases of espionage and it’s hard to find someone — particularly in the case of a friendly country — that has been imprisoned for 29 years.”
Just last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of his Likud party’s Knesset faction that Pollard, “should have been released a long time ago.” A peititon to Obama signed by 106 out of 120 Knesset members, which included support from Arab MKs for the first time, was delivered recently to President Shimon Peres.
Abrams’ statement marks a reversal of his earlier position. In 2009, Abrams told The Jerusalem Post that he couldn’t back Pollard, saying, “There are details of his case that have always made his release problematic, and that’s all I’m going to say about it”.
Abrams served eight years in the Bush administration. He is currently a senior fellow at the Washington Council on Foreign Relations.