(JTA) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has called for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
Kissinger sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he commute Pollard’s sentence to time served.
Pollard was a U.S. Navy analyst when he passed classified information to Israel. He has been in prison since 1985.
"At first I felt I did not have enough information to render a reasoned and just opinion,” Kissinger said in a letter dated March 3, but released Tuesday. “But having talked with [former Secretary of State] George Shultz and read the statements of former CIA Director [R. James] Woolsey, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman [Dennis] DeConcini, former Defense Secretary [Caspar] Weinberger, former Attorney General [Michael] Mukasey and others whose judgments and first-hand knowledge I respect, I find their unanimous support for clemency compelling.
“I believe justice would be served by commuting the remainder of Pollard’s sentence of life imprisonment,” added Kissinger, who served as secretary of state from 1973 to 1977 and as national security advisor from 1969 to 1975.
Last month, former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton called for clemency for Pollard. Hamilton was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when Pollard was sentenced.
In recent weeks, letters on behalf of Pollard have been received at the White House from former Vice President Dan Quayle, former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter and Chicago Rabbi Capers Funnye, a cousin of first lady Michelle Obama. In addition, 39 House Democrats sent a letter to Obama seeking a pardon.
In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a formal request for Pollard’s clemency to Obama. Also that month, more than 500 religious and community leaders asked Obama in a letter to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served.