Benjamin Netanyahu to make public plea to US for spy release

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is about to make a public plea for the United States to release Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli spy jailed 25 years ago, his office said on Tuesday.

Mr Netanyahu has decided to "accede to Jonathan Pollard's personal request and will, in the coming days, officially and publicly appeal to US President Barack Obama regarding Pollard's release," his office said.

Pollard, a former US Navy analyst, is serving a life sentence for passing thousands of secret documents about American spy activities in the Arab world to Israel between May 1984 and his arrest in November 1985.

The issue of Pollard, a US-born Jew who was given Israeli citizenship while in prison, has been a thorn in the side of relations between Israel and its main ally Washington.

His arrest sparked a crisis in ties that only ended with Israel promising to end all espionage activities on US soil.

But Israelis charge his punishment and the long-standing US refusal to commute his sentence have been particularly harsh, given that he gave information to a friendly nation....

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