Supporters of Jonathan Pollard shut down the White House switchboard after flooding it with calls urging his release to attend his father’s funeral.
Israel also said Sunday that it would officially request that the Obama administration let Jonathan Pollard leave prison for a brief compassionate release to pay his respects at the funeral scheduled for Monday morning in Indiana. State prison officials will not confirm whether or not Pollard attended the funeral until after it has taken place.
Morris Pollard, 95, died June 18 in Indiana after complications from a bladder infection.
At least 200 supporters of Pollard, a civilian analyst for the U.S. Navy who was convicted of spying for Israel, demonstrated Sunday in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, urging Obama to accede to the request.
More than 70 Knesset members last week sent a petition to Washington urging Obama to allow Pollard to visit his dying father. Activists and organizations from around the world, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, had urged Obama to grant Pollard the compassionate leave, but the administration refused.
Pollard, who was arrested in 1985 and is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Butner, N.C., was allowed to make an emergency call to his hospitalized father a week before his death, but Morris Pollard was too weak to speak on the telephone.
Pollard was not allowed to attend his mother’s funeral in December 2001. He reportedly has been estranged from his family since 1996.