Dershowitz, Cotler, other legal scholars urge Obama to release Pollard

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A number of leading legal scholars, including Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, urged President Obama in a letter to grant jailed spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard clemency.

Other legal scholars who signed the letter include Irwin Cotler, the former Canadian justice minister, and Nadine Stroessen, the former ACLU president.

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The ten scholars, including six from Harvard Law School, where Obama got his law degree, outline in the June 20 letter nine considerations they say merit the release of Pollard, who was  sentenced to life in prison in 1987.

Among these are what they say is an excessive sentence for his crime, the fact that an array of former U.S. officials who were in office when Pollard was a spy now advocate his release, and what they describe as the prejudicial interference in his sentencing by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.

“Mr. President, it is precisely for standing injustices like this – and where the justice system has failed and cannot provide relief – that the U.S. Constitution has vested in the President the power of executive clemency,” according to the letter, released Tuesday by the signatories. “We urge you to exercise this power in the pursuit of justice, the rule of law and simple humanity.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres said that he would press Pollard’s case this week during his final visit to the United States in an official capacity.