Washington (JTA) – Bill Richardson, the former U.N. ambassador known for his efforts to release American captives overseas, called on President Obama to free Jonathan Pollard immediately.
In a Dec. 10 letter to Obama, whom he endorsed after dropping out of the 2008 presidential race, Richardson noted that an increasing number of figures involved in government when Pollard was given a 1987 life sentence for spying for Israel now believe his sentence should be commuted.
“In my view, there is no longer a need for a discussion today,” Richardson wrote. “Virtually everyone who was in a high position of government — and dealt with the ramifications of what Pollard did at the time — now support his release.”
Richardson, also the ex-governor of New Mexico, wrote that former National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb placed much of the blame for Pollard’s lengthy incarceration on former Secretary of State Casper Weinberger’s negative views of Israel.
Noting in his letter that presidents traditionally consider commutations in time for the Christmas-New Year’s season, Richardson urged Obama to include Pollard among them.
Richardson, an energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton, is known for negotiating the release of Americans held captive in North Korea, Cuba, Iraq and Sudan.
He has been involved in the attempt to release Alan Gross, a State Department contractor, from a Cuban jail. Gross, of Maryland, has been imprisoned for four years after being arrested while trying to set up an Internet connection for the island’s tiny Jewish community.