Daily Israel Report

Former US Defense Official Says Pollard Punishment Too Harsh

A former US Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration wrote President Obama that Pollard’s like in jail punishment was too harsh.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 10/12/2010, 12:24 PM / Last Update: 10/12/2010, 12:43 PM

Israel news file photo

A former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration wrote U.S. President Barack Obama that Jonathan Pollard’s punishment was too harsh.

The letter, written two weeks ago and revealed on IDF Radio Tuesday morning, gives new hope for a committee that has been working for years to convince the Israeli government to pressure the United States to free Pollard.

A U.S. court sentenced him to life imprisonment for passing on classified information to Israel from the Pentagon, where he worked. The offense usually carries a punishment of two to four years in jail, a point made by former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense Lawrence J. Korb in his letter.

"Despite Pollard's admission of guilt, cooperation with authorities, [and the fact that he] asked for a plea bargain, he received a disproportional punishment," Korb wrote.

Last month, rumors circulated in Washington that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered to extend the 10-month building freeze if President Obama were to pardon Pollard. U.S. national security officials reportedly scotched the proposal, if it actually was offered by the Prime Minister.

During the Wye Plantation negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel in 1998, CIA Director George Tenet  threatened to resign when he heard that then-President Bill  Clinton was considering freeing Pollard.