(WASHINGTON) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told parliament Tuesday that he has written a letter to President Obama asking him to release Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel and has been in prison for 25 years.
The U.S. State Department said Tuesday that it has received a letter from Netanyahu and will be reviewing it, but did not confirm its contents or offer any comment.
This isn’t the first time Netanyahu has asked for Pollard’s release -- he did so back in the 1990s and the case came up again a couple months ago as the U.S. was scrambling to find a way to entice Israel to make concessions that would allow the stalled Mideast peace talks to resume. Both times the U.S. has balked at the requests.
It’s unclear if Netanyahu will make this a prerequisite to a renewed settlement freeze that could restart talks, but his public appeal for Pollard’s release comes as the Obama administration is dispatching top aides to the region in an effort to find a way forward in the new year.
Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst, was detained in 1985 and convicted of passing classified information on to the Israelis about Iraq and other subjects.
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