Jonathan Pollard turned 60 this week, according to both the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars.
He was arrested by FBI agents in 1985 and has been held in jail ever since, including eight years in solitary confinement.
Former president Shimon Peres said in June, that US government attorneys will consider a deal to release Pollard from prison. Peres said that he had discussed Pollard's case with US President Barack Obama in their meeting, and Obama said that the US Attorney General would consider an “offer” Peres said he had mentioned to Obama.
Prior to Peres' arrival, on his last official visit to Washington as president, 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, 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.
At about the same time, Senior American legal scholars wrote a letter to Obama, petitioning him to commute Pollard's sentence and free him.
The letter argues "such commutation is more than warranted if the ends of justice are to be served, the rule of law respected and simple humanity secured."
Those signing the letter calling for the release of Pollard include six Harvard Law School professors, among them Alan Dershowitz, along with Canadian law professor emeritus and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Irwin Cotler.
In the letter, the legal experts note the usual sentence for Pollard's offence of "conveying classified information to a foreign government" is six to eight years, with the average actual jail time standing at a mere two to four years.
Pollard's life sentence is "excessive, grossly disproportionate, unfair and unjust," argues the letter.