Jonathan Pollard is recovering after successful surgery.
Esther Pollard, the imprisoned spy’s wife, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he was “conscious and aware” for what she had termed as “urgent” surgery having to do with his kidneys and gall bladder. She also said the surgery was a “temporary fix.”
Pollard, who was sentenced to life in 1987 for spying for Israel, was removed Tuesday from the federal prison in Butner, N.C., for the surgery. He has been in poor health, including a deterioration of his kidney problems.
Esther Pollard had come from Israel to North Carolina to visit him before the surgery.
Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, visited Pollard in prison last week.
Pollard called on Oren to seek his release from President Obama. Pollard was not allowed to visit his father on his deathbed or to attend his father’s funeral earlier this summer, despite appeals from Israeli officials and supporters. Previous presidents have similarly refused such requests.
Pollard was a U.S. Navy civilian analyst when he was arrested in 1985 for spying for Israel.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in a short speech Monday on the U.S. House of Representatives floor reiterated a call he led last year to show Pollard clemency.
“I believe that in addition to the arguments based on the excessive length of the sentence, I think the fact that Mr. Pollard has served for so long, clearly the deterrent effect is there,” Frank said. “We are not asking that he be pardoned, we are not condoning his crime. We are saying that in addition to the personal argument, it would be a sign of U.S.- Israeli relations that I think would help strengthen the climate for peace.”
Frank initiated a letter to President Obama last October calling for Pollard’s release. It was signed by 37 Democrats in Congress.
Since then, a number of retired government officials of both parties and at least two Republicans congressmen have made similar calls for Pollard’s release.