“I apologize for the remarks I made this morning regarding the case of Mr. Jonathan Pollard, which were misinformed and misleading. I certainly do not personally believe that Mr. Pollard should have received capital punishment and I was appalled to learn that I had given that impression," Ambassador Richard Jones said. "I regret any distress that I may have caused Mr. Pollard’s family and loved ones.”
Responding to audience questions during an academic conference on Monday, Jones said Pollard's crimes appear especially heinous to many Americans because he was caught spying for a friendly power.
"It came out in the trial very clearly, Jonathan Pollard took money for what he did, he sold out his country," Jones said in comments at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv. "The fact that he wasn't executed is the mercy that Jonathan Pollard will receive."
Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy, sold military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty at his trial. He is serving a life sentence in a US federal prison.
"This is a very emotional issue in the United States," Jones said. "I know he was helping a friend but that's what makes it even more emotional for Americans, if a friend would cooperate in aiding and abetting someone who is committing treason against his own country."
Jones said the statements did not reflect his personal views nor those of the Bush administration.