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Esther Pollard: Bush is Willing to Free Pollard This Week

Jonathan Pollard's wife Esther said this morning that U.S. President Bush is ready to free the imprisoned Israeli - but that Prime Minister-designate Ehud Olmert has to make the request.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 4/10/2006, 4:12 PM / Last Update: 4/10/2006, 11:06 AM

Speaking on Channel Two's Monday morning television talk program, Esther Pollard said, "Someone who is very close to President Bush came to me last night and said that Bush is ready to free Jonathan even in time for the upcoming Passover holiday [which starts Wednesday night] - as long as Olmert makes an official request."

She said that the source with whom she spoke is "known very well to Mr. Olmert as trustworthy and having close ties with the U.S. President."

"I am willing to meet with Olmert even today," Mrs. Pollard said, "if he invites me, in order to give him the information I have."

A staffer in the Prime Minister's Office told Arutz-7 that such a meeting "would be considered" if Mrs. Pollard would turn to them and ask for one.

MK Uri Ariel also called on Olmert today to ask President Bush for Pollard's release.

The Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard faxed a letter to Olmert today, entitled, "Re: An Urgent Official Request to President Bush to Release Pollard." The committee writes, "According to the information we have, Bush is willing to respond favorably to a request of this nature, and is anticipating such a request from you."

The letter also noted that before the Moslem holy month of Ramadan, the United States freed 1,000 Iraqis as a good-will holiday gesture to the Sunnis.

"We are surprised," the Committee writes, "that you have not yet officially asked President Bush to free Jonathan Pollard as a Passover holiday gesture to the Jewish people... The fact that Israel, after 21 years, does not make an official and serious request for its agent's release in honor of the holiday gives the impression that we are not interested in him."

The Committee adds that Pollard has been imprisoned far longer than those who were freed after spying for the United States' enemies.

Jonathan Pollard was a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst in the 1980's when he came across information vital to Israel's security that was not being transferred to the Jewish state - contrary to an intelligence-sharing agreement between the U.S. and Israel. He then passed along the information to Israel, ultimately helping Israel to protect itself from Iraqi missiles. He was later caught while trying to find asylum in the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Despite a plea bargain agreement, he received a life sentence with no parole for an offense that usually nets 2-4 years. In failing health, Jonathan Pollard is now in his 21st year of that sentence.

Despite the wide exposure his cause has received, many in the Jewish community continue to view Pollard as a traitor who deserves to remain in prison. He continues to be accused of having caused major harm to U.S. interests, including endangering American agents in the Soviet Union.

However, it is now known that a central force behind the promulgation of this impression was the man who actually betrayed the said U.S. agents in Russia - CIA agent-turned-KGB mole Aldrich Ames. Ames, finally arrested for spying in 1994, revealed to the Russians the names of every American spy in the Soviet Union, leading to the execution of several of them. As former Justice Department attorney John Loftus has documented, it was Ames himself, before he was caught, who was assigned the task of preparing the damage assessment of Pollard's activities - and he used the opportunity to attribute to Pollard the crimes that he himself had committed.

Speaking with Channel Two today, Mrs. Pollard had harsh words for incoming Knesset Member Rafi Eitan, head of the Pensioners Party. The Pensioners won an unexpected seven Knesset seats in the recent election because of what is felt to be a protest vote by young and/or disenchanted voters. Eitan was Pollard's handler in the U.S. on behalf of the Mossad; Pollard charges that Eitan later held up a document that could have led to his release.

"He has shaken off his responsibility for Jonathan ever since the day of his capture," Mrs. Pollard said about Eitan today. She charged that Eitan once said that if he were present when Pollard tried to find asylum in the Israeli Embassy, he would have "shot him in the head, thus ending the Pollard affair before it even began."

Asked about Pollard last week, Eitan said only, "I would very much like to see this man go free." He has also been quoted as saying that he has worked for Pollard's release, and that he hopes that when he is appointed as Cabinet minister in Olmert's new government, he would be able to use his influence to have Pollard freed.

Jonathan Pollard himself told Maariv newspaper that Eitan "betrayed me and abandoned me for 21 years," and even testified falsely against him to the Americans.

A review of headlines mentioning Pollard since February shows the following totals (based on the news.fresh.co.il site):
Arutz-7 Hebrew - 22 mentions
Arutz-7 English - 17
Ynet (owned by Yediot Acharonot) - 5
NRG (owned by Maariv) - 2
Haaretz (Hebrew) - 1