Former CIA chief urges release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard

In letter to Wall Street Journal, R. James Woolsey writes: For those hung up on the fact that he’s an American Jew, pretend he’s a Greek- or Korean- or Filipino-American and free him.


Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard must be released, former CIA chief R. James Woolsey wrote in a letter to the editor sent to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, arguing that one reason Pollard has remained in prison for as long as he has was that he was an American Jew.

Woolsey, who has voiced his support for the release of the convicted spy in the past, wrote in the letter that, while he had “recommended against clemency for Jonathan Pollard early in the first Clinton administration when I was director of Central Intelligence, but now, nearly two decades later, I support his release. What would I say has changed? The passage of time.”

Jonathan Pollard during an interview, May 15, 1998.

Jonathan Pollard during an interview at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, North Carolina, May 15, 1998. – Photo by AP

“When I recommended against clemency, Pollard had been in prison less than a decade. Today he has been incarcerated for over a quarter of a century under his life sentence,” he added.

The former U.S. intelligence chief then said that the Israeli spy has been penalized in a harsher manner than other spies the United States apprehended, and  that of “the more than 50 recently convicted Soviet bloc and Chinese spies, only two—Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen—also received life sentences, and two-thirds of these some-50 enemy spies served or have been sentenced to less time than Pollard has already served.”

Finally, Woolsey wrote to the Wall Street Journal that the was “absolutely no reason for Pollard to be imprisoned for as long as Ames and Hanssen, and substantially longer than spies from other friendly, allied, and neutral countries.”

“For those hung up for some reason on the fact that he’s an American Jew, pretend he’s a Greek- or Korean- or Filipino-American and free him,” he culminated.

Israeli officials have recently renewed official calls to release the convicted Israeli spy, attempts hastened by reports of his deteriorating health in U.S. prison.

Most recently, President Shimon Peres raised the issue during a visit to Washington last month, upon being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

However, prior to Peres’ arrival, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that “the public shouldn’t expect any surprises on this issue.”

“Our position has not changed and will not change today. Mr. Pollard was convicted of extremely serious crimes,” Carney said.

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