A group of eighteen prominent former United States senators recently wrote to President Barack Obama and asked that he free Jonathan Pollard, according to a report on Monday by Yeshiva World News.
Pollard, who was convicted on a single count of passing classified information to an ally 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.
“We do not condone espionage, nor do we underestimate the gravity of Pollard’s crime,” the senators wrote in their letter to the President, dated October 26, 2011. “But it is patently clear that Mr. Pollard’s sentence is severely disproportionate and (as several federal judges have noted) a gross miscarriage of justice.”
“After more than two decades in the harshest prison conditions, Mr. Pollard’s health is declining,” continued the senators. “He has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions as has the State of Israel, and by all accounts has served as a model prisoner. Commuting his sentence to time served would be a wholly appropriate exercise of your power of clemency – as well as a matter of basic compassion and American justice.”
The senators also noted that “Religious leaders from all faiths and prominent national figures have publicly stated their support for Mr. Pollard’s release.”
The signatories on the letter include Senator Steven Symms (R-ID); Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ); Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY); Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA); Senator and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham (R-MI); Senator Birch Evans Bayh II (D-IN); Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT); Senator Donald W. Stewart (D-AL); Senator Connie Mack (R-FL); Senator Joseph Davies Tydings (D-MD); Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT); Senator Timothy E. Wirth (D-CO); Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD); Senator Robert Burren Morgan (D-NC); Senator David Durenberger (R-MN); Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND); Senator Donald Nickles (R-OK); and Senator Larry Craig (R-ID).
Yeshiva World News noted that this letter marks the first time that a group of senators have united to request clemency for Pollard. The report also added that some of the senators who signed the letter opposed Pollard’s release in the past but now support an immediate commutation of his sentence to time-served.
Earlier on Monday it was reported that a Nigerian clergyman has added his voice to the hundreds of others appealing to Obama to grant clemency to 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.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recently told a group of 15 rabbis in Florida that if it were up to him, Pollard "would stay in jail for life."
He later agreed prior 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.