WASHINGTON – Former Speaker-of-the-House and Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said Thursday that he was 'leaning towards clemency' for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
While in office in the 1990s, Gingrich, who is currently ahead in the polls over the five other GOP candidates, spoke adamantly against any such pardon.
In an interview with CNN, Gingrich stressed that as a presidential candidate he must be "very cautious about what position I would take on that," adding that he needed more information on the case before he could take a final stand.
"I am prepared to say my bias is towards clemency, and I would like to review it. He's been in (prison) for a very long time. But we are pretty tough about people spying on the United States."
Gingrich said that he would like to review Pollard's sentence "with comparable people who have been sentenced for very long sentences for comparable deeds."
Change of Heart? Gingrich (Photo: AP)
Gingrich's new stand coincides with that of many other US officials, mostly from Republican administrations, supporting clemency for Pollard.
One of the most avid supporters for clemency is Lawrence Korb, who serves as the assistant secretary of defense at the time of Pollard's arrest.
Korb cites humanitarian concerns as his primary reason for supporting clemency for the convicted say, be he also said that he believed that Pollard's sentence was harsher than it should have been, adding that such offences usually warrant no more than a four-year sentence.
Gingrich, like the GOP's other candidates, has been courting the Jewish community's vote.
Speaking before the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington on Wednesday, Gingrich pledged that upon his election, he will relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.