The wife of convicted US spy Jonathan Pollard met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday to appeal for help securing his release ahead of a visit to Israel by US President Barack Obama later this month.
Attending a meeting with Netanyahu and Esther Pollard were former US Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb and Effie Lahav, head of the Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard, according to the prime minister’s media adviser.
Pollard was an American-Israeli civilian intelligence analyst who was convicted of passing classified information to Israel and sentenced to life in prison in 1987.
Esther Pollard’s meeting with Netanyahu took place shortly before Barak Obama’s first visit to the Jewish state as US president, set for March 20.
Esther Pollard expressed her despair over her husband’s situation. “Jonathan can’t go on anymore,” she said. “This is a golden opportunity now that the president of the United States is coming. If not now, when?”
Netanyahu said he would bring up the issue with Obama during the visit.
“The time has long since come for Jonathan to go free,” Netanyahu said at the meeting. “This issue will come up during President Obama’s visit. It has already been raised countless times by myself and others, and the time has come for him to go free.”
Prior to the president’s visit activists have been organizing online to petition the president for Pollard’s release. Over 95,500 people have signed a petition addressed to the US president at www.pollardnow.org.
The letter, addressed to Obama, states in part: “We, The People, simple citizens of the State of Israel, sincerely hope that you will take this opportunity to respond positively to the many requests for Jonathan Pollard’s release, including those made by Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres on our behalf.”
President Shimon Peres has also said he would bring up Pollard’s release with Obama.