Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Sunday, December 13, 1998 Published at 21:56 GMT

World: Middle East

Israeli spy issue resurfaces

President Clinton promised an early decision in the case

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has once more in raised in his talks with President Clinton the issue of Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy jailed for life in the US in 1985.

Middle East
Mr Pollard, an American-born Jew, spied for Israel when he was an employee at the US defence department, passing thousands of documents to Israeli agents.

[ image: Jonathan Pollard: In virtual solitary confinement for the past 13 years]
Jonathan Pollard: In virtual solitary confinement for the past 13 years
At the Wye River talks in October President Clinton refused to authorise his release, which almost blocked the agreement.

President Clinton - speaking today at a joint press conference with Mr Netanyahu - promised an early decision on whether Mr Pollard's sentence can be reduced.

"My counsel, (Charles) Ruff, has invited the Justice Department and all... the interested parties to say what they think about the Pollard case, to do so by sometime in January," Mr Clinton said.

"I will review all that plus whatever arguments are presented to me on the other side for the reduction of the sentence, and I will make a decision in a prompt way," he said.

Top secret information passed

Mr Pollard, now aged 44, was a US Navy employee with access to top secret material at the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US defence department, who used his position to pass large amounts of information to Israeli agents.

Much of what Pollard disclosed to Israeli intelligence is still classified material, but US sources say he handed over highly sensitive information.

When Pollard was first arrested, the Israeli Government denied all knowledge of him.

However, supporters both in Israel and the United States have incessantly lobbied for his release.

A year ago, Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship and the government of Israel pledged itself to try to obtain his release.

The sentence Pollard is serving - he has been in virtual solitary confinement for 13 years - is the harshest ever passed in the case of espionage for a country America regards as friendly.

But correspondents say there are powerful lobbies in the United States which do not want to see him let out. The director of the CIA, George Trenet, is reported to have threatened to resign if Pollard were released.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

13 Dec 98 | Middle East
Clinton's peace appeal

13 Dec 98 | Monitoring
Clinton and Netanyahu statements in full

12 Dec 98 | Middle East
Anger at West Bank deaths

12 Dec 98 | Middle East
Gaza gears up for Clinton

11 Dec 98 | World
Analysis: Clinton's Middle East gamble

07 Dec 98 | Middle East
Netanyahu wins temporary reprieve

02 Dec 98 | Middle East
Israeli ultimatum over troop pullback

24 Oct 98 | Middle East
Middle East deal signed

Internet Links

The State Department

Israeli government

The Palestinian National Authority

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Iraq oil-for-food aid extended

Israel demands soccer sex scandal inquiry

Israeli PM's plane in accident

Jordan police stop trades unionists prayers

New Israeli raid in southern Lebanon

New demand over PLO terror list

Earthquake hits Iran

New UN decision on Iraq approved

Algerian president pledges reform