The White House announced Monday that the US administration has rejected President Shimon Peres'
request to grant convicted spy Jonathan Pollard
"Our position has not changed in this case," National Security Council Spokesperson Tommy Vietor said.
The Obama Administration "has no intention to release Pollard," he added.
Earlier, Peres sent a personal letter to US President Barack Obama
in which he asked him to pardon the convicted spy on humanitarian grounds.
The Justice for Jonathan Pollard association claims that US President Barack Obama did not refuse Peres' request and that no official response has been received as of yet, contrary to the statement by the National Security Council.
The association said that the statement reflects the administration's current position but does not reflect the president's response to Peres' bid. The group stressed that the president is the only person who can give a pardon
Pollard is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina penitentiary. The 57-year-old's health
has been deteriorating over the past few years and he took another turn for the worst on Friday, when he was rushed to a civilian hospital. He currently remains in serious, yet stable condition.
In the letter, Peres thanked Obama for his loyalty to the Jewish State, but noted that Israel
is very concerned about Pollard's waning health.
News of Pollard's hospitalization renewed calls within the Israeli government to push Washington for his release.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar as well as Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, all joined in the call urging the US to pardon the ailing spy.
Still, prior to sending Obama the letter Peres noted that while he would do everything in his power to help, "There are other American considerations that I am not familiar with."
The idea of Pollard's release is not without support in the US.
Other than the various groups campaigning for his release, former top officials in the US administration agree that given the fact that Pollard has already served 27 years in prison, Washington should not automatically negate the possibility of a pardon.
Among those who voice their support for Pollard's release are former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger
and George Shultz
and CIA director James Woolsey.
AP and AFP contributed to this report
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