White House rejects Peres clemency appeal for Israeli spy Pollard

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The White House on Monday rejected Israeli President Shimon Peres's personal appeal to commute convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard's life sentence.

"Our position hasn't changed," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in an email to Yahoo News. Asked whether the White House had received Peres's written plea to President Barack Obama for clemency, Vietor said he was not sure "but the position is the same."

Obama had rejected a January 2011 request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to free Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst convicted in 1985 of passing classified information to Israel. Netanyahu's appeal was the first such plea in public, and it drew support from most of Israel's parliament, the Knesset.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Peres had based his appeal on Pollard's deteriorating health, and mentioned a recent conversation with Pollard's wife Esther Pollard. "The president sent the missive after receiving a petition signed by 80 MKs, urging Obama to release the Jewish spy, as well as intense pressure from the lobby working to secure Pollard's release ahead of Peres' White House visit planned for June." That's when Peres is slated to receive the highest U.S. civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, though he has come under pressure from Pollard supporters to reject it unless Pollard goes free.

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