Free Pollard rally at Western Wall
Free Pollard rally at Western WallIsrael news photo: Flash 90

United States President Barack Obama is under increasing pressure to free Jonathan Pollard with 39 Members of Congress submitting a letter calling for his release. The petition was initiated by four Democrats in Congress.

It was signed by some considered close allies of the president, including Representatives Barney Frank and Henry Waxman.

The petition notes that Pollard has been punished more severely for his actions than have others. “We believe there has been a great disparity from the standpoint of justice between the amount of time Mr. Pollard has served and the time that has been served – or not served at all – by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations that, like Israel, are not adversarial to us,” the letter states.

There is no longer any need to keep Pollard in jail, they added, “It is indisputable in our view that the nearly twenty-five years that Mr. Pollard has served stands as a sufficient time from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence.” The congressmen assured Obama that granting Pollard clemency “would not in any way imply doubt about his guilt, nor cast any aspersions on the process by which he was convicted.”

Pollard has served 25 years of a life sentence for passing classified information to Israel.

2010 has seen an increase in efforts to secure Pollard's release. Lawrence Korb, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, recently wrote an op-ed calling for Pollard's release.

Earlier in the year activists issued a special Passover Haggadah dedicated to Pollard. In April, Shulamit Peretz issued a call for Pollard's release in honor of her husband Eliraz, who had been killed in action just days earlier.

In early November, Members of Knesset wrote a letter requesting clemency for Pollard. However, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to deliver the letter to U.S. leaders. Netanyahu argued that the letter was unnecessary, as he has discussed Pollard's case many times in the past.