Israeli President urges Obama to let convicted spy free


Israelis protest in front of the US embassy in the coastal city of Tel Aviv to call for the release of Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard.


David Buimovitch

Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a personal letter to President Obama on Monday, urging the US to release convicted Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard, due to his deteriorating health.

The letter came just a day after Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, also called on the US government to release Pollard, reported AFP.

Pollard, 57, was hospitalized last week at medical center in North Carolina due to dizziness, repeated falls, severe nausea and excruciating abdominal pain in the area of the gall bladder and pancreas, reported the Washington Post.

The convicted spy was a former civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy.

He was arrested in 1985 for photocopying classified documents and giving them to his Israeli counterparts.

After initially trying to seek refuge in the Israeli embassy he was convicted under the Espionage Act and sentenced to life in prison in 1987.

Peres, who is expected to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in June, said that he and the Israeli people were worried about Pollard's ailing health.

Pro-Israel lobbying groups said that Peres should turn down the Medal of Freedom until Pollard is released, reported Haaretz.

Pollard's case has been the subject of numerous demonstrations in Israel. 

Former Israeli hostage, Gilad Shalit, who was recently released from captivity, has also called on Netanyahu to pressure his US counterparts to have Pollard freed, said YNet News.

Both Democratic and Republican administrations have refused Israeli appeals to release the convicted spy, and the White House confirmed on Monday that its position had not changed and the president had no intention of releasing Pollard, according to the Associated Press.