Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv Sunday to demand the release of American-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who is currently incarcerated in an American prison.
Holding signs saying that 29 years in prison is enough and lofting pictures of US politicians who have called for Pollard’s release, protesters led by Pollard’s wife Esther called for him to be brought home.
Pollard has been in jail since 1985. His plight has become a cause celebre for mostly right-leaning Israelis, and has recently gained the support of a number of American policy figures.
Pollard was a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy when he gave thousands of classified documents to his Israeli handlers. He was arrested in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison.
Earlier this month, former CIA Director James Woolsey claimed anti-Semitism may be a factor in the US refusal to release him.
Woolsey’s told Israeli Channel 10 TV Saturday that Americans who spied for other countries including South Korea, the Philippines, and Greece were freed after short sentences.
“I certainly don’t think that it is universally true, but in the case of some American individuals, I think there is anti-Semitism at work here,” Woolsey said.
An increasing number of figures involved in government when Pollard was given his life sentence in 1987 now say his sentence should be commuted. The calls to release Pollard have intensified in the last year, with pleas from lawmakers and former top officials of both US political parties.
Elliott Abrams, a former US deputy national security advisor, recently stated that he believes Pollard should be released from prison.
“I think that there is a just and a humanitarian case for his release,” Abrams told i24 news, an international 24-hour news and current affairs television channel based in Tel Aviv, in an interview.
The Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, said the continued imprisonment of Pollard is “on the verge of anti-Semitism.”
Pollard will be eligible for parole in late 2015.