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Netanyahu Asks US to Pardon Israeli Spy


Jonathan Pollard speaks during an interview in a conference room at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, NC, in this 1998 file photo

Jonathan Pollard speaks during an interview in a conference room at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, NC, in this 1998 file photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked U.S. President Barack Obama to pardon convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life prison term in the United States.

Israeli radio reports that Netanyahu's office forwarded the request to the White House. And a White House official told the French news agency on Tuesday that Obama received Netanyahu's letter and will review it.

Netanyahu said in late December that he would issue a formal request for Pollard's release after Pollard's wife hand-delivered a letter to the prime minister from her husband.

Pollard admitted passing secrets to Israel after he was arrested in 1985. The full extent of the secrets passed on by Pollard has never been revealed, but he is widely believed to have allowed Israeli officials to copy thousands of secret documents.

Pollard is an American who was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995. The 56-year-old former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst is in poor health. Netanyahu has said he feels he has a "moral obligation" to ask for Pollard's release.

Israel has regularly lobbied for Pollard's freedom. However, whenever clemency appeals were lodged, U.S. officials have said they were unwilling to consider leniency because of the gravity of his offenses.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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