Petitioners campaigning for the release of jailed Israeli-American spy Jonathan Pollard planned to mark his 10,000th day in US prison on Monday by holding a vigil outside US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Jerusalem hotel.
In what organizers from the Justice for Jonathan Pollard campaign called an urgent vigil to save the life of the convicted spy, activists are demanding Pollard’s release from prison due to the length of time he has already served and his deteriorating health condition.
The protesters plan to gather opposite the David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem on Monday night, after the end of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Pollard, a naval intelligence officer, was arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for passing on classified information to Israel. Since then he has been held in solitary confinement and is due for mandatory parole in November 2015.
The movement to see Pollard pardoned has gained increasing support among both Israeli and American Jewish leaders and officials.
In March former US assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb joined a growing chorus of senior officials and former diplomats calling on US President Barack Obama to pardon Pollard.
After nearly three decades in prison, Pollard no longer poses a threat to the US or its military secrets, Korb said following a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Effie Lahav, a leading activist for Pollard’s release.
“The time has long since come for Jonathan to go free,” Netanyahu said at the meeting, which came a day before Obama arrived in Israel for a visit. “It has already been raised countless times by myself and others, and the time has come for him to go free.”
Netanyahu promised at the time to discuss Pollard with Obama and President Shimon Peres said he intended to present the US leader with a petition, signed by over 200,000, that called for pardoning Pollard.
Released IDF captive Gilad Shalit, who spent five years as a captive of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, also appealed on behalf of the Pollard who was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995.
The warm relations between the US and Israel are marred by the “long, too long, imprisonment of our brother Jonathan Pollard,” Shalit wrote in an open letter to Obama published by Israel’s Channel 2 news. However, Obama made it clear in an interview with Channel 2 before his arrival in Israel that he had no intention of releasing Pollard immediately.