More than 10,000 Israeli citizens signed a petition calling on President Shimon Peres to refuse to accept the US Medal of Freedom until imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is released from prison.

Former justice minister Amnon Rubinstein, one of the signatories, told Army Radio that Pollard’s situation wasn’t only inhumane, but also contravened the American constitution. “The constitution forbids excessive punishment,” he said, adding that Pollard’s sentence has long been disproportionate.

During his speech at the AIPAC conference in early March, President Barack Obama announced he would present Peres with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US.

In addition to the petition, Peres’s new Facebook page has been flooded with requests by Israelis for him to ask Obama to pardon Pollard. Many of those writing on Peres’s wall said that with Passover around the corner, one receiving a medal honoring freedom and civil rights could not ignore the plea of a prisoner being held for political reasons.

Pollard, born in Texas, worked as a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy. In 1987 he was convicted of selling Israel classified information and he is still serving his life sentence.