Responding to recent reports Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been holding secret talks with the US to secure his release, imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard said Israel hasn't taken "even the basic steps" to seek his freedom.
Pollard, who completes his 22nd year of a life sentence next month, strongly refuted statements by the government here that it is extending full support to him and his family in line with legal requirements afforded a recognized Israeli agent.
"Why is it that my wife continues to live in poverty and distress and I continue to rot in prison, while the government of Israel continues to lie blatantly about supporting us and about efforts for my release?" wrote Pollard this week in a letter to Israel's ambassador to Washington that was obtained by WND.
Earlier this month, Yedioth Aharonoth, Israel's leading daily, reported Olmert recently officially requested that the US free Pollard. The newspaper further reported a letter issued by the prime minister's bureau revealed secret talks with President Bush and other US officials regarding Pollard's release have been ongoing.
The report followed a request by the heads of all Knesset political factions for Olmert to immediately work to secure the release of Pollard.
Israeli Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel issued a statement in response to the Knesset request:
"Ever since the prime minister was elected, he continues to do everything that is possible to do to bring about the release of Jonathan Pollard … the prime minister regards the release of Jonathan Pollard as an important issue, for which he is obliged, and which he is working to advance," read the statement.
The flurry of reports regarding Pollard come after Israel's US ambassador, Sallai Meridor, visited the jailed agent in August.
According to Pollard and another witness present, during the visit, Meridor promised the Israeli government was working for Pollard's release and that he would keep in close contact with Pollard.
At the ambassador's request, Pollard then outlined for Meridor a series of steps which the ambassador agreed Israel should implement to win his freedom.
Pollard said he sent Meridor a letter earlier this month reminding him of his promises. But Pollard says he hasn't heard back from the ambassador or any other Israeli official.
He called the reports of secret talks being held for his release "untrue," "baseless and indeed laughable."
He wrote to Meridor, "Obviously, if there were any current efforts for my release, your mission, when you visited me, would have been to brief me to ensure that my wife and I would cooperate and not say or do anything to jeopardize sensitive efforts.
"If there were any truth to the claim that the government of Israel is taking steps to secure my release, why is it that not a single one of the very basic steps that I outlined for you has been implemented and not a single promise that you made to me has been kept? Why have you avoided all contact with me since August?"
Pollard also sent Meridor a copy of a form letter routinely released by Olmert's office to concerned Israeli citizens inquiring about financial support for the Pollards in which the prime minister states Pollard, his wife and his "close associates" are receiving "full support in every respect" from the government of Israel.
Pollard said Olmert's claims were "outright lies."
"Neither my wife nor I have ever received a cent from the government of Israel," he said.
"If the prime minister is willing to lie so blatantly about an issue like financial support, which is so easy to check on, how much so is he willing to lie about efforts for my release?" asked Pollard.
In 1998, the Israeli government officially recognized Pollard as an agent acting on its behalf after years of claiming he was acting alone. As such, the government was required to extend full legal and financial support – retroactive to the time of his arrest – to Pollard and his family.
A 1999 Supreme Court ruling in response to a petition on behalf of Pollard further required Israel to support the Israeli agent. Pollard had sued the Israeli government after it allegedly failed to secure his release or provide the required support.
Pollard worked as a US Navy intelligence analyst and was indicted in 1985 on one count of passing classified information to an ally, Israel, and sentenced to life imprisonment in spite of a plea agreement that was to spare him a life sentence.
Pollard's sentence is considered by many to be disproportionate to the crime for which he was convicted – he is the only person in US history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. The median sentence for this particular offense is two to four years.
The unprecedented sentence was largely thought to have been driven by a last-minute secret memorandum from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, in which he accused Pollard of treason – a crime for which he was never indicted – and claimed Pollard harmed America's national security.
But even Weinberger, before his death in 20006, says the sentence may be about something else.
Weinberger said in a 2004 interview that the Pollard issue was "a very minor matter, but made very important. ... It was made far bigger than its actual importance."
Pollard previously told WND the information he passed to Israel forewarned the Jewish state about the build-up of unconventional weapons of war in neighboring Arab countries, including the build-up of arms by Saddam Hussein for use against Israel.
There have been deals in the past in which the US promised to release Pollard, who has been the subject of major protest rallies in Israel in recent years.
Prior to the signing of the 1998 Wye River Israeli-Palestinian Accords, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was told by President Bill Clinton that Pollard would be released as part of a deal that also would free 750 Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons. Netanyahu signed off on the accords, later saying the freeing of Pollard was for him the dealmaker. But Clinton reneged and kept Pollard imprisoned.
Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, a key Wye negotiator, later wrote in his book covering the negotiations, "The Missing Peace," that Pollard's "unjust" sentence made him eligible for immediate release not linked to any concessions. But Ross writes he cautioned Clinton against releasing Pollard at Wye, saying the Israeli spy was too valuable as a "political bargaining chip."
"(Pollard's release) would be a huge payoff (for Israel); you don't have many like it in your pocket ... You will need it later, don't use it now," writes Ross.
Even former CIA chief James Woolsey said in a recent interview Pollard should be freed.
"My view is that 20 years is enough … and at this point I think he has served long enough," stated Woolsey.
Reprinted by permission of WorldNetDaily