US rejects calls to free Navy analyst who spied for Israel
April 10, 2012 3 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The White House has rejected persistent calls by Israeli politicians and lobbyists to free a United States Navy intelligence analyst serving a life sentence for giving classified US government documents to Israel. Jonathan Jay Pollard was convicted in 1987 for selling classified information to the Israeli government. Ronald Olive, a former counterintelligence officer for the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who led the US Navy’s prosecution of Jonathan Pollard, has described Pollard’s spying activity as “one of the most devastating cases of espionage in US history”, involving the theft of over “one million classified documents”. Recently it emerged that, before spying for Israel, Pollard had attempted to spy on the US for the government of Australia. However, in Israel, Pollard, who is now an Israeli subject after renouncing his American citizenship, is widely considered a national hero. Last week, senior Israeli political figures renewed persistent calls to the administration of US President Barack Obama to free Pollard. According to the Israelis’ reasoning, the life sentence imposed on Pollard is too harsh considering that he spied for a US ally. Last week’s calls were led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged the White House to free the convicted spy “in the spirit of the Jewish Passover. Netanyahu said that “the Festival of Freedom of all the Jews should be turned into Pollard’s private one”. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plea was echoed in a personal letter addressed to President Obama by Israeli President Shimon Peres, along with a petition signed by over 80 members of the Israeli Knesset. However, on Monday the White House said that the personal calls by Israeli politicians had no impact on its stance on Pollard’s release. White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told journalists that there had been “no change in our position” regarding the Jewish spy. There are differing views about the Obama administration’s long-term intentions regarding Pollard. As intelNews readers will remember, The New York Times alleged in October of last year that President Obama was ready and willing to free the convicted spy but was stopped at the last minute by Vice President Joe Biden, who told Mr Obama that “over my dead body are we going to let [Pollard] out before his time”.