Pakistani official points to Pollard case in noting U.S. hypocrisy

(JTA) — A Pakistani official noted the case of Jonathan Pollard in calling America hypocritical for condemning a 33-year prison sentence for a Pakistani citizen who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden.

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Dr. Shakil Afridi was convicted in Pakistan of conspiring against for helping the CIA find bin Laden using DNA evidence.

“How can the country that is holding Jonathan Pollard in prison for close to 30 years claim that we do not have the right to judge a spy in our own country as we see fit?” Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, said during an interview over the weekend with CBS. “The country that put Jonathan Pollard away for spying for its close ally, Israel, should understand that other countries, too, punish those who spy for an erstwhile ally.”

The interview came as Israeli President Shimon Peres arrived in the United States to meet with U.S. officials and to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. He told reporters Monday that he would raise the issue of clemency for Pollard with Obama. 

“I will speak one on one with the president about Pollard,” Peres said ahead of the Medal of Freedom ceremony on Wednesday. “The Israeli president also has the power of clemency — I understand all the problems associated with clemency. Clemency is not an extension of the judicial process, it includes considerations beyond and outside this area, and I’ll explain this to the president. I expect that I will explain my position, beyond that I can’t say — I don’t know what his considerations are. I intend on focusing on the humanitarian aspect.”

Meanwhile, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Itamar Rabinovich told Israel Radio on Monday that American officials suspect that there were other spies besides Pollard.

“The Americans suspect that Jonathan Pollard was not alone, that there were other Pollards and that Israel, despite all its promises, did not reveal all its cards,” he said, adding that in its sentence of Pollard, the U.S. was punishing Israel and “expressed their anger more with Israel than with Pollard.”

Efforts to persuade Obama to extend clemency to Pollard, sentenced to life in 1987 for spying for Israel, have intensified in recent months. Pollard is said to be in poor physical condition.

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