The White House announced that its position has not changed on Jonathan Pollard, hours after Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a personal letter to President Obama requesting clemency.
The letter, sent Monday, cited Pollard’s severe health situation in requesting that he be released from Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina, where he is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel.
“Our position has not changed in this case,” National Security Council Spokesperson Tommy Vietor said Monday afternoon. Obama “has no intention to release Pollard,” he told reporters.
The letter was delivered to Obama via U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro. Obama received the letter Monday afternoon, Haaretz reported.
Peres has not received an official reply to his letter, the Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.
Pollard reportedly was rushed to a hospital outside of the prison on the eve of Passover suffering from an unspecified emergency condition. He has suffered from a variety of illnesses since being imprisoned in 1986.
Obama announced last month that he would award Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in June; a petition signed by more than 35,000 Israelis has called on Peres to link the awarding of the medal to clemency for Pollard. Former captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit signed the petition last week.
Peres on Monday also received a petition signed by 80 Israeli lawmakers calling on Obama to release Pollard, according to reports.
Peres met Sunday with Pollard’s wife, Esther, who appealed to the president to request her husband’s release “before it is too late.”
“I appeal to you as Jonathan’s wife so that you might use your influence because I do not want to be his widow,” Esther Pollard reportedly told Peres on Sunday. “Jonathan’s strength is slipping away, and I do not know what will happen the next time I receive a telephone call about his health problems.”