Former Mossad officer Rafi Eitan said Monday “there is a good probability” President Barack Obama will pardon Jonathan Pollard before the presidential elections in November and free him from prison by the end of the year.
Eitan was Pollard’s “handler” before the American Pentagon worker was arrested for passing on classified information on Israel’s behalf. The offense, which is not in the classification of “spying,” generally carries a 2-4 year sentence in prison, but a federal United States court handed down a life sentence.
President Obama, like those before him, have refused to grant Pollard clemency, despite his deteriorating health.
“There is a change in the air among senior American officials,” Cabinet Minister Yuli Edelstein said Monday.
Several unconfirmed rumors have circulated the past several months that President Obama will try to score points with Jewish voters and free Pollard, who has been incarcerated for more than 27 years.
More than 20,000 academics, artists and intellectuals recently have signed a petition calling on President Shimon Peres to refuse a scheduled “Freedom Medallion” award from President Obama later this year unless Pollard is released.
The petition said: “As citizens of the State of Israel, we congratulate you on President Obama’s decision to grant you the American Freedom Medallion, which symbolizes justice and freedom. Nevertheless, because of the very same values represented by the medallion, we cannot agree with your receiving the medallion at the same time the United States holds Yonatan Pollard in jail for more than 27 years when senior American leaders already have admitted that the life term in prison is immoral and unjust."