President Shimon Peres on Tuesday reiterated his commitment to bring about the release of Jonathan Pollard, after thousands signed a petition calling on him to secure Pollard’s release.
In a message he posted to his official Facebook page, Peres wrote, “As President I see it very important to act decisively to bring about the release of Jonathan Pollard. We are all united in calling for his immediate release.”
Peres added, “In meetings with President Obama and the heads of the U.S. government I have raised the explicit request for Pollard's release and will continue to work this way during my meeting with Obama in June.”
The President’s statement came after more than 20,000 academics, artists and intellectuals signed the petition calling on him 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."
Obama announced he would give Peres the medal during his speech at the AIPAC convention earlier this month.
On Monday, former Mossad officer Rafi Eitan said “there is a good probability” that Obama will pardon 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.