Former US attorney-general Michael Mukasey sent a letter to US President Barack Obama calling for Jonathan Pollard's sentence to be commuted to the time he has already served - 25 years.
"[Pollard] has not been alleged by anyone to have had any motive to harm the United States," Mukasey wrote Obama in the letter that was released Wednesday. "In these circumstances, a life sentence can only be considered utterly disproportionate to the crime."
"I had occasion myself to consider life sentences, and indeed to impose them," Mukasey wrote. "In more than 18 years on the bench, I imposed such sentences on four defendants," he went on. "Two of these had committed double murders and the two others were convicted of terrorist acts. The accusations against Pollard are not even close in their severity to those kinds of crimes."
Mukasey noted that Pollard had passed information to a friendly country without intention to harm the US. "I think it would be proper for you to use your power as the President of the United States to release the man who has already paid a price far beyond what the severity of his deeds required."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will officially and publicly appeal to President Obama in the coming days for the release of Pollard, Netanyahu's office announced Tuesday.
However, there were no immediate signs that the White House would respond favorably to Netanyahu's request. "I am not aware that that's something that the president is looking at doing," said the White House's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, when asked about the possibility Obama would free Pollard.
At Wedbesday's daily press briefing, U.S. State Department Spokesman, Philip Crowley said there had as yet been no formal request from Israel recently to free Pollard, but that the subject had come up several times during Netanyahu's first term of office and also during his current tern. He noted that Pollard's situation was not changed as a result of these efforts, but that there is a legal process for dealing with such a request. He would not make any predictions despite reporters' attempts to draw him out.