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Monday, September 27, 2010     GET REAL

House Democrats petition Obama to free Jonathan Pollard

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress have sought to drum up support for a proposal for President Barack Obama to free a U.S. Navy analyst imprisoned since 1985 on charges of relaying classified data to Israel.


Members of the Democratic majority have been circulating a letter that called for the release of Jonathan Pollard. The letter called on Obama to free Pollard in an effort to promote peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"This would be particularly helpful at a time when the Israeli nation faces difficult decisions in its long-standing effort to secure peace with its neighbors," the letter said.

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The letter was drafted in late September and organized by Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Rep. Edolphus Towns and Rep. Anthony Weiner, Middle East Newsline reported. The House Democrats asserted that clemency for Pollard would demonstrate U.S. support and encourage Israel to take risks for peace.

In 1986, Pollard, despite reaching a plea bargain, was sentenced to life in prison. His sentence was scheduled for review in 2015.

The letter was drafted after what was said to have been a proposal by the Israeli government for the release of Pollard in exchange for the extension of the suspension of Jewish construction in the West Bank and most of Jerusalem for the next three months. The Obama administration has refused to respond publicly to the offer.

In a statement, Frank, a Democrat from Massachussetts, said the letter was not meant to question Pollard's life sentence. But he said the letter pointed out that Pollard received a far harsher sentence than others convicted of similar offenses.

The Democrats said the letter would circulate throughout the House until mid-October. At that point, the letter would be sent to Obama.

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