Pollard has spent more than 26 years of an unprecedented life sentence languishing in a federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States. The median sentence for this offense is 2 to 4 years. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for this offense.
The letter from Congressman Engel, who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee and is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and Congressman Smith, who serves as a senior member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, is chairman of its Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee, and chairs the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, marks the first time Congressional Democrats and Republicans have joined forces in an effort to secure Pollard›s release. In November 2010, Congressman Barney Frank spearheaded a letter to President Obama that was signed by 39 members of Congress, all of whom were Democrats, which asked the President to commute Jonathan Pollard›s sentence.
The «Dear Colleague» letter comes as Israeli President Shimon Peres visits the United States, where he is scheduled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. President Peres, who has already issued a formal request to President Obama to release Jonathan Pollard, has pledged to personally raise the issue with President Obama when the two meet. 70,000 Jews in Israel, the U.S. and around the world have signed a petition which urges Peres to use his influence and standing in Washington to ensure that Pollard is immediately released.
The Committee to Free Pollard urges people to contact their Congressional representatives and request that they sign onto this historic bi-partisan letter. In addition, the Committee encourages people to contact Congressmen Engel and Smith and thank them for spearheading this important letter to the President.
Numerous American leaders have called for a commutation of Pollard›s sentence, including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; former Secretary of State George Shultz; former CIA Director James Woolsey; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane; former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb; former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum; former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Senator Dennis DeConcini; former Senator David Durenberger, who served as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of Pollard›s conviction; former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Jonathan Pollard›s sentencing; and Senators John McCain and Charles Schumer.
Pollard has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private in letters to many Presidents and others. His health has deteriorated significantly during his more than two-and-a-half decades in prison.
Despite the fact that Pollard entered into a plea agreement and fully cooperated with the prosecution in his case, he nonetheless received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled, which was in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.