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White House: No Immediate Plans to Release Pollard

President Obama has no immediate plans to release Pollard, despite revelations about U.S. spying on Israel, say White House officials.
By Nir Har Zahav
First Publish: 12/23/2013, 11:34 PM

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama
Flash 90

Channel 10 News reported on Monday evening that President Barack Obama has no immediate plans to release Jonathan Pollard, despite recent revelations that the United States conducted surveillance on Israeli leaders.

When contacted by Channel 10 regarding Pollard, officials in the White House said that Obama "stands behind what he said just before his visit to Israel. Pollard committed a very serious crime, and there is no intention to release him.”

Before his visit to Israel last March, Obama said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that Pollard “has been serving his time. There is a justice system that allows for periodic review and the way I as president function here is to try and make sure that I am following the basic rules of that review.”

Obama said at the time he has "no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately but what I am going to be doing is to make sure that he is accorded the same kinds of review as others. I recognize the emotions involved in this. One of the strengths of the Israeli people is that you think about your people wherever they are.”

In recent days there have been calls by Israeli Knesset Members for the United States to free Pollard, particularly in the wake of revelations, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, that American and British intelligence agencies tapped the communications of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak, among other foreign leaders.

Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Dr. Lawrence Korb said on Saturday night that Pollard's ongoing imprisonment, in light of these revelations, is "absurd" and a "moral embarrassment."

According to Channel 10, officials in Washington were having difficulties understanding the link that has been established over the past few days between the reports of the surveillance and Pollard’s release. Officials in the U.S. government see this as two completely different issues, the report said.

The officials who spoke to the channel stressed that the intelligence cooperation with Israel will continue.

Earlier Monday, Channel 2 reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will officially demand the release of Pollard from the U.S.

The unconfirmed report said that Netanyahu will ask for Pollard's release in one of two frameworks: either for another exchange of more Arab terrorist prisoners, or as part of agreeing to the interim deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.