Holding placards with the Pollard's picture, right-wing activists protest for his release.
Holding placards with Pollard's picture, activists protest for his release. Photo by Yuri Blecherov
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Former CIA Director James Woolsey says anti-Semitism could be a factor in the U.S. refusal to release Jonathan Pollard, the Jewish-American jailed for spying for Israel.

Woolsey told Israel's Channel 10 on Saturday that Americans who spied for other countries including Korea and Greece were freed after short sentences, while Jonathan Pollard is still jailed after 25 years.

Pollard was a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy when he gave thousands of classified documents to his Israeli handlers. He was arrested in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison.

"I certainly don't think that it is universally true, but in the case of some American individuals, I think there is anti-Semitism at work here," Woolsey said.

He said others who did the same as Pollard were freed quickly.

Last month, Anti-Defamation League Chairman Abraham Foxman made a similar claim in an interview to Army Radio. 

Foxman said there is no reason why Pollard remains incarcerated when spies convicted of far more serious crimes have walked free.

The only explanation is someone is trying to teach the American-Jewish community a lesson in loyalty, and "that to me is on the verge of anti-Semitism," Foxman said.

In a statement released by the ADL, Foxman said the Pollard issue threatens the entire American-Jewish community.

"If it were only a vendetta against one individual, it would be bad enough. But it has now become one against the American-Jewish community. In effect, the continuing imprisonment of this person long after he should have been paroled on humanitarian grounds can only be read as an effort to intimidate American Jews. And, it is an intimidation that can only be based on an anti-Semitic stereotype about the Jewish community, one that we have seen confirmed in our public opinion polls over the years - the belief that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country, the United States."