McCain joins calls for Pollard release

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is urging the release of Jonathan Pollard, the first active Republican politician to do so.

McCain, the GOP presidential candidate in 2008, spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Thursday, according to a statement released by Netanyahu’s office and confirmed to JTA by McCain’s office.

Activists seeking the release of Pollard, convicted of espionage in 1987 and sentenced to life, have garnered dozens of leading Democrats, both sitting and retired, and Republican former officials in recent months to seek Pollard’s release.

Until McCain, however, they had failed to get the endorsement of a sitting Republican – considered critical to establishing broadbased support for clemency.

McCain’s voice is also significant, because of his storied career as a Navy pilot. Pollard was a Navy analyst when he was caught.

Pollard, who has been incarcerated since his 1985 arrest, is said to be ill.

Netanyahu has formerly asked President Obama to grant him clemency; so have 39 Democratic Congress members, led by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).