US government attorneys will consider a deal to release Jonathan Pollard from prison, according to President Shimon Peres. Peres said that he had discussed Pollard's case with US President Barack Obama in their meeting Wednesday, and Obama said that the US Attorney General would consider an “offer” Peres said he had mentioned to Obama.
Peres made the comments as he emerged from his meeting with Obama. Earlier, Peres had said that he would make a special request to Obama for the release of Pollard during this, the outgoing Israeli president's last official trip to the US. Prior to Peres' arrival, the Office of the President had submitted an official request to the White House to advance Pollard’s release.
“I made a specific offer, but I won't go into details,” Peres told reporters Wednesday, adding that he had discussed the offer with Pollard family members before presenting it to Obama. “If I give too many details it will just ruin things,” Peres said, adding that Obama had agreed to weigh the offer. “I can't say that he responded positively on the spot. I don't want to add to what he said, which was that the US Attorney General would become involved,” Peres said.
Jonathan Pollard has recently been the subject of a high-profile campaign for his release. He is now in his 29th year of incarceration in a U.S. jail for passing classified security-related information from America to Israel. He was arrested by FBI agents in 1985 and has been held ever since, including eight years in solitary confinement.
Outrage simmered over a reported deal to release Pollard before the Passover holiday in April in exchange for hundreds of Israeli-held jailed Arab terrorists; the deal never materialized. His prison conditions have been described as "horrific" and he is suffering from ailing health.
“If I say I am optimistic I would be adding to what Obama said,” Peres added. “I am trying to be cautious and not pump up anyone's hopes without cause. I discussed with the President how to present our conversation, and what I have presented is what we agreed upon.”