A Nigerian clergyman has added his voice to the hundreds of others appealing to the U.S. president to grant clemency to time served for former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.
The unexpected endorsement came from Enoch Adejare Adeboye, named in 2008 by Newsweek as one of the top 50 most powerful people in the world.
Adeboye wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama, "I humbly request that the remainder of Jonathan Pollard's sentence is commuted in the interest of justice."
The African clergyman's Redeemed Christian Church of God has more than five million members in his own country, and millions more abroad. At least 14,000 branches of the church are found in 110 countries around the world as well, including the United States, where hundreds of affiliates are found.
Diplomatic relations between Israel and Nigeria have existed since the early days of the Jewish State and are currently warm, with bilateral political and economic ties between the two countries at all levels. In the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War followed by the global oil crisis, many African nations severed ties with Israel -- Nigeria among them. Relations were restored in September 1993, and the Nigerian Embassy opened in Israel for the first time in April 1993.
After announcing to a group of 15 rabbis in Florida that if it were up to him, Pollard "would stay in jail for life," U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden agreed prior to the start of the Jewish high holy days to meet with a "small group" of American Jewish leaders about the issue of his release.
The meeting, which was to be scheduled "soon" after the holidays were finished, still has yet to take place and Biden has yet to make good on his promise.
Pollard, who was convicted on a single count of passing classified information to an ally -- Israel -- more than 26 years ago, is serving a life sentence for the crime, which usually carries a maximum prison term of two to four years.
The Israeli agent's health has seriously deteriorated in the past year, and he was denied the privilege of attending his father's funeral. Despite those circumstances and literally hundreds of appeals by top U.S. and international leaders, however, Pollard has remained behind bars.