Israel PM urges US to free 'ill' spy Pollard

Israel PM urges US to free 'ill' spy Pollard

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called on the United States to release Jonathan Pollard from prison, after reports of a deterioration in the American-Israeli spy’s health.

On Friday, Israeli media reported that Pollard was rushed to hospital near his North Carolina prison. Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger took the opportunity of a Sunday holiday visit paid by President Shimon Peres to convey an appeal to the US leadership for the freedom of the 57-year-old Pollard.

A spokesman for the rabbi told AFP that Metzger has recently been holding talks with senior officials in the White House, including Vice President Joe Biden, and that Metzger felt that their stance on Pollard had “softened.”

Peres told Pollard’s wife Esther on Sunday that he was “bothered and concerned by the recent reports” about Pollard’s health, and said he would ask President Barack Obama “to positively consider releasing Pollard,” in light of his medical condition

Pollard, a former US Navy analyst, passed thousands of secret documents about American spy activities in the Arab world to Israel between May 1984 and his arrest in November 1985.

He was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995 and was officially recognised by the Jewish state as an Israeli spy in 1998.

Israelis say that Pollard’s punishment and the long-standing US refusal to reduce his sentence have been particularly harsh, given that he gave information to a friendly nation.