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Former CIA Head: Pollard Incarceration Is Anti-Semitism

James Woolsey says 'pretend Pollard is Greek American and free him,' says US doesn't need to spy on Israel.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 2/8/2014, 10:32 PM

Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Pollard
Yehuda Glick

Former CIA Director James Woolsey reiterated his call for the release of Jonathan Pollard, now in his 29th year behind American bars over charges of spying for Israel. His calls follow those by many senior security officials asking for Pollard's release.

Speaking to Channel 10, Woolsey argued "after a quarter century the time has come to free him. That doesn't mean that what he did wasn't serious, I've seen the materials in 1993 and he disclosed very confidential content. But I tell people 'imagine he's a Greek American and free him.'"

In 2012, Woolsey wrote a sharp letter to the Wall Street Journal, in which he brought examples of various spies released after 10 years, calling on the US to "pretend Pollard isn't Jewish and release him." He noted that "one especially damaging Greek-American spy, Steven Lalas, received a 14-year sentence."

The argument that Pollard's ongoing incarceration is a result of American anti-Semitism was made by Tablet magazine and by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in January.

Construction and Building Minister Uri Ariel responded to Woolsey's comments, calling them a "stinging indictment" of the American government, which has "left Pollard to rot in jail from anti-Semitism and nothing else. I call on US Secretary of State John Kerry and US President Barack Obama to prove that isn't true, to act humanely and free Pollard immediately."

MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) similarly responded to Woolsey's comments, saying "the US itself can't logically explain not releasing Pollard from jail after 29 years. True friendship is expressed by little kindnesses...and mutual understanding. If Israel is asked and able to make such large concessions for its enemies, how much more so should it be expected between friends."

"If the US is indeed our greatest friend, it needs to free Jonathan Pollard immediately," added Shaked.

Woolsey, who was head of the CIA under President Bill Clinton's administration, stressed that the US doesn't need to spy on Israel.

"America has understandings with the Canadians, Australians, and the British not to spy on each other. We also have an excellent relationship with Germany and Israel, and I think we don't need to spy on them," noted the former CIA chief.

The headquarters for Pollard's release responded to the statements as well, saying "we very much hope that (Obama) will decide to put an end to the tragedy and the saga and to free Jonathan."