WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama is unlikely to grant President Shimon Peres'
request for clemency for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that given the nature of Pollard's crimes, it was doubtful that the US would change its position
on the matter.
Pollard was convicted of espionage in 1986 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. His term is set to end on November 2015, but his failing health
has prompted a massive campaign for his early release.
'Free Pollard' rally (Archives: Zvika Klein)
President Peres, who is on a six-day visit in the US, during which he will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom,
is planning to ask that Obama grant a presidential pardon to Pollard on humanitarian grounds.
Washington, however, remains unrelenting on the matter: "Our position has not changed and will not change today," Carney told journalists at a daily briefing.
"I would simply remind you that Mr. Pollard was convicted of very serious crimes."
Still, the Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home expressed hope that Obama would have a change of heart: "We hope that President Obama will think favorably on the personal, humanitarian request of the president of Israel
– which is the United States' biggest friend."
The Justice for Pollard campaign issued a statement saying that "The White House statement that its position on Jonathan Pollard has not changed, is not new and it is not news.
"If there were anything significant in the White House statement today, it was the additional comment that the White House position 'will not change today.' This comes as no surprise.
"President Peres is making his request of President Obama today to release Jonathan Pollard. As soon as a definite answer from Mr. Obama to Mr. Peres is made public, then and only then will we know whether or not Mr. Peres' appeal for clemency for Jonathan was rejected or accepted.
"At this time the fate of Jonathan Pollard continues to hang in the balance. The Pollards urge everyone to intensify their efforts and to redouble their prayers."
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