Democratic Representative Barney Frank made a rare speech from the floor of the Congress Tuesday on behalf of clemency for Jonathan Pollard, hospitalized for surgery.
"I believe that in addition to the arguments based on the excessive length of the sentence, I think, the fact that Mr. Pollard has served for so long, clearly the deterrent effect is there; we are not asking that he be pardoned; we are not condoning his crime,” the Massachusetts legislator said in his short speech.
“We are saying that in addition to the personal argument, it would be a sign of U.S. - Israeli relations that I think would help strengthen the climate for peace," he added.
President Barack Obama has not commented. Pollard, whose health has been deteriorating, was rushed from his North Carolina prison cell Monday to a hospital. U.S. officials have refused to tell Pollard’s wife Esther, who flew to the United States to visit him, where her husband is being hospitalized and have not informed her of his condition.
Last week, Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, visited Pollard, who asked the envoy to appeal to President Obama to release from his life term in prison for passing on classified information to Israel.
The offense usually carries a jail term of up to four years, and several current and past U.S. officials in the past year have admitted that the life sentence was too harsh and handed down after an unfair trial.
Rep. Frank last October drafted a letter, signed by 36 other Democrats in the House of Representatives, appealing to President Obama to grant Pollard clemency.