Today, during Chol Hamoed Pesach, the annual celebration of the Jewish people's freedom, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D -- Queens and Brooklyn) renewed his call to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard, a former Pentagon analyst serving a life sentence for passing information to Israel, in a letter to President Barack Obama. Pollard has been imprisoned for longer than any other person convicted of espionage on behalf of a U.S. ally.
In 1985, Pollard was charged with passing classified information to the Israeli government. He cooperated with investigators, admitted his wrongdoing, and was sentenced to life in prison. No one who has ever pleaded guilty to a similar crime has ever been sentenced to a life term.
Rep. Weiner, a long time advocate for reducing Pollard's sentence, repeatedly urged former President George W. Bush to commute his sentence, and is now renewing his call to President Obama to do the same.
In recent months, a bipartisan group of prominent Americans have followed Weiner's lead in calling for Pollard's release. This group includes former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former presidential candidate and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and over 41 members of Congress, including Rep. Barney Frank (D -- MA) and Senator John McCain (R -- AZ).
"Commuting Mr. Pollard's sentence will be viewed as an act of compassion on behalf of the United States," Weiner wrote in the letter. "Mr. President, please do what former President Bush has repeatedly refused and heed the countless calls for Pollard's freedom during this Passover season."
Full text of Rep. Weiner's letter to President Obama below:
April 22, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
As Pesach, the holiday of freedom, comes to a close, I urge you to use your constitutional power to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard and allow him to join his family in Israel. This exercise in justice is not meant to imply doubt about his guilt or cast any aspersions on the process by which he was convicted. On the contrary, Mr. Pollard knows that he has committed serious crimes and after 26 years, stands as the strongest deterrent to espionage in this country. However, his charges do not merit the punishment.
It is indisputable that the disproportionate amount of time that Mr. Pollard spent in prison is a thorn in the side of the alliance between Israel and the United States. Mr. Pollard cooperated with investigators, admitted his wrongdoing, and was sentenced to life in prison. No one who has ever pleaded guilty to a similar crime has ever been sentenced to a life term.
Commuting Mr. Pollard's sentence will be viewed as an act of compassion on behalf of the United States and between two allies. Mr. President, please do what former President Bush has repeatedly refused and heed the countless calls for Pollard's freedom during this Passover season.
I thank you for your time and consideration of this request.
ANTHONY D. WEINER
Member of Congress