U.S. ambassador apologizes for remarks on Israel spy
JERUSALEM -- The U.S. ambassador to Israel apologized Tuesday for comments about convicted Pentagon spy Jonathan Pollard, saying they were "misinformed and misleading."
Speaking at an academic conference Monday, Ambassador Richard Jones said the U.S. had been lenient by not executing the former Pentagon analyst.
In a statement released by the U.S. Embassy Tuesday, Jones said his comments were "misinformed and misleading" and "did not reflect my personal views nor those of the Bush Administration."
"I certainly do not personally believe that Mr. Pollard should have received capital punishment and I was appalled to learn that I had given that impression," Jones said. "I regret any distress that I may have caused Mr. Pollard's family and loved ones."
Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, transferred military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty at his trial. He is serving a life sentence in a U.S. federal prison.
Responding to audience questions at Monday's conference, Jones said Pollard's crimes appeared especially heinous to many Americans because he was caught spying for a friendly power.
"It came out in the trial very clearly, Jonathan Pollard took money for what he did, he sold out his country," Jones said. "The fact that he wasn't executed is the mercy that Jonathan Pollard will receive."
After receiving reports of the remarks, the Israeli Foreign Ministry asked Jones for a clarification, said spokesman Mark Regev. Israel has accepted responsibility for the Pollard affair, but also called for his release from prison on humanitarian grounds.
"The ambassador has put out a statement. We consider the matter closed," Regev said.
However, Pollard's wife, Esther, said Jones' apology was insufficient. She said Jones made "false charges" against her husband. "Unless there is a specific retraction and correction, we simply must regard the apology was incomplete at best or insincere at worst," she said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)