The White House on Monday rejected an emotional appeal by Israel’s President Shimon Peres to commute convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence. Peres based his appeal on Pollard’s fast deteriorating health, after Peres’ recent conversation with Pollard’s wife Esther. Peres’ appeal came after he had received a petition signed by 80 MKs, urging Obama to release Pollard.
In June, President Peres will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian award. Peres is under intense pressure from the Pollard “lobby” to reject the award if Pollard is not freed.
“Our position hasn’t changed,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in an email to Yahoo News. Asked whether the White House had received Peres’ written plea to President Barack Obama for clemency, Vietor said he was not sure “but the position is the same.”
Obama had rejected a January 2011 request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to free Pollard, a former US Navy intelligence analyst convicted in 1985 of passing classified information to Israel.