+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

High Court: State can continue restricting Mordechai Vanunu's freedoms

Nearly 11 years after he was released from an 18-year prison sentence for leaking information on Israel’s top-secret nuclear program, Mordechai Vanunu is still prevented from doing just about anything an average citizen can. 

Three High Court justices ruled earlier this week that Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu will able allowed extremely limited contact with foreign nationals, despite allowing the Israeli government to continue and limit almost all of his freedoms.

Nearly a decade after his release from prison, where he sat for 18 years for leaking secrets about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, Vanunu is still unable to leave the country; enter the West Bank; approach border crossings, ports or airports; and is heavily restricted from communicating with foreign nationals. Vanunu is also required to obtain special permission from the Shin Bet in order to meet with a foreigner, which according to several sources is his partner.

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, Jerusalem 2009 (Eileen Fleming CC BY-3.0)

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, Jerusalem 2009. (Eileen Fleming CC BY-3.0)

Vanunu was employed as a radiation technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, which according to foreign sources is a facility used to develop and manufacture nuclear weapons. Vanunu was fired in 1985 due to his left-wing political activism. In 1986 he provided extensive details regarding the Negev facility to British Sunday Times reporter Peter Hounam, along with pictures he took without authorization. The Mossad later lured Vanunu to Rome where Israeli agents kidnapped and renditioned him back to Israel. He was convicted of treason and espionage, and sentenced to 18 years in prison – 11 of which were spent in solitary confinement.

Before submitting his previous appeal, Vanunu was completely forbidden from communicating with any foreign nationals. In the appeal, Attorney Michael Sfard claimed that these decade-long restrictions are akin to Vanunu’s social exclusion, since he claims that the vast majority of Israeli citizens do not want to communicate with him. Furthermore, Sfard stated that East Jerusalem (where Vanunu resides) is full of foreign nationals, and Vanunu cannot ascertain whether every person he meets is a citizen or not.

Sfard further claimed that 30 years after the end of Vanunu’s tenure at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, and since the time he passed on classified information to Hounam, his client poses no security threat.

However, in the wake of an appeal hearing in September, the state decided to slightly lessen the restrictions on Vanunu’s communication with foreign nationals:

The appellant is allowed, without prior permission, to have casual, face-to-face conversations with foreign nationals or foreign residents, on the condition that it is a one-time, unplanned conversation that takes place face-to-face in a public space open to the general population, and will be limited to 30 minutes… It must be emphasized that any conversation with foreigners will not be in print or through any means of communication, including the internet.

Vanunu and Sfard claimed that this is a harsh measure that will be difficult to uphold, since it forces Vanunu to measure the length of his conversations with every person he speaks to, and if he has spoken to someone at least once, he must ignore him/her completely after their conversation. Vanunu even announced that he is conceding this “benefit.”

Plutonium separation plant control room at the Dimona Reactor, as photographed and exposed by Mordechai Vanunu (photo: Mordechai Vanunu, http://www.vanunu.com/)

Plutonium separation plant control room at the Dimona Reactor, as photographed and exposed by Mordechai Vanunu (photo: Mordechai Vanunu, http://www.vanunu.com/)

However, the High Court justices decided to adopt the state’s decision to “ease” the restrictions, while approving all other restrictions on Vanunu. The justices established that they give weight to the fact that much time has passed since Vanunu’s crime, and that perhaps in the future the court will further lesson the restrictions placed on him. However, the justices also found that there is room for the state’s “caution,” without going into too much details beyond “the appellant’s history” and his “path,” since his prior convictions justify the steps taken by the state.

The decision comes less than half a year after a petition by Vanunu to the High Court submitted by Attorney Avigdor Feldman. In it Vanunu demanded to leave the country in order to attend a conference in Britain. The petition was rejected outright, despite the fact that 54 members of Parliament signed letter inviting him to the conference. At the time, Feldman told +972’s Noam Sheizaf: “I don’t know of another example or precedent like this.”

Nearly 11 years after his release from prison, the state continues with its vindictive abuse against Vanunu. And if it remains in the hands of the High Court, it looks like the state will continue doing so for years to come.

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

Related:
Israel renews restrictions on nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu
A way out from under the Middle East’s nuclear shadow

Newsletter banner 5 - 540

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    * Required

    COMMENTS

    1. Weiss

      And yet ANOTHER reason why I am Ashamed to be Jewish…

      The Samson Option is important to understand here. If Israel were ever to be on the losing end of a war , it would resort to blowing themselves up along with the rest of the Middle East and perhaps the world with their undeclared Nuclear Arsenal of over 200 weapons including the Plutonium Bomb thanks to Mordechai Vanunu. While cynically Israel is not a member of the Nuclear Non Prolifeartion Treaty (Iran is a member)

      This policy stated by Israeli leaders going back to Ben Gurion and Golda Meir is no different than a Suicide Bomber mentality.

      The only answer to this insanity is world nuclear disarmament.

      Reply to Comment
    2. That a state that routinely mass-murders unarmed civilian populations and destroys vast swaths of their cities would continue to vindictively persecute Mordechai Vanunu, a hero of no less stature than Nelson Mandela, a hero whose actions were driven by conscience and by the knowledge of the threat to the world that Israel’s secret WMD program pose, is no surprise. It’s also not surprising that Israel, whose Zionist agents dominate the West, is allowed to continue to blackmail the world with these weapons.

      http://defence.pk/threads/israel%E2%80%99s-samson-option-the-real-nuclear-threat.314192/

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        Mordechai Vanunu is no hero, he is a traitor. Benjamin Franklin said of American born traitor Benedict Arnold that while Judas betrayed only one man, Arnold Betrayed three million. Like Arnold, Vanunu betrayed millions of Israelis. He sold his information in return for a promise of $100,000.00 from a book deal as a result of an article to be and was published in the British press.

        The Americans after hundreds of years have not forgiven Benedict Arnold. If they had caught him they would have hung him. The Americans caught the Rosenbergs and hung them for divulging atomic secrets to the Soviets. Vanunu deserved no less.

        The Americans have held Johnathon Pollard in jail for 28 years. Vanunu only served 16 years. In the circumstances Israel has been much more kind to Vanunu then he deserves.

        The Israeli court has time and time again found that Vanunu remains a threat to disclose information which would harm 8 million Israelis. As the court justices have noted, Vanunu has many times violated the terms of his release in speaking to foreigners.

        Klaus Fuchs was allowed to leave Britain after serving 9 years of a 14 year sentence. He went on to aid the East German nuclear program and is thought to have passed on information and instructions to China which helped it to develop an atomic bomb.

        Vanunu has shown no remorse for his deeds. He has said he would carry on his campaign against Israel if he could. He told his Shin Bet handlers he thought there was no need for Israel to exist. If he has classified material to divulge he would. In addition it is believed that the would concoct information to harm Israel.

        Justice Asher Grunis said of Vanunu in 2013:

        “In recent years the court has examined the necessity of the restrictions several times, and each time has been convinced that they are necessary for state security. The evidence shown here, including the covert evidence, indicates that the plaintiff is still a source of classified information, and is not hesitant to disseminate the information.”

        Vanunu’s own father disowned him for his treason. Israel should not forgive him and give him another chance to harm Israel’s security.

        Reply to Comment
        • Weiss

          No Pedro it is YOU that is the traitor, as ANY Jew that embraces the Far Right – Which is where Fascism lies on the political spectrum is desecrating the memory of those lost in the holocaust.

          These Fascists have abdicated their right to call themselves Jews anymore… they are the true existential threat to Israel and Hews all around the world.

          Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        “Mordechai Vanunu, a hero of no less stature than Nelson Mandela.…”

        Hallucinating, Mr. David Evans, no?

        Reply to Comment
    3. The article contains a photograph from Eileen Fleming who has campaigned tirelessly to get Mordechai Vanunu’s story heard and his freedom gained – in line with international law. I learned when I visited the British House of Commons when some 60 members of of both Houses invited Vanunu to address Parliament. This was refused. A journalist told us that NATO now deployed Israeli nuclear weapons through commissioning 6 submarines, 5 gifted to Israel by Germany. This means that western governments are colluding with Israel’s puerile game of denial of holding such weapons, while wagging a hypocritical finger at Iraq. Governments are not lifting a finger to help Vanunu, who is seen as a hero by ordinary people. Once again Governments and people they supposedly represent are widely out of step.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        “- in line with International law”?

        Now, which part of International law would that be, Mr. John Tyrell? Pls. cite the law and the specific provision thereof on which your rely, and provide your source.

        “I learned when I visited the British House of Commons when some 60 members of of both Houses invited Vanunu to address Parliament. This was refused.”

        It is interesting, is it not, Mr. John Tyrell, that those “60 members of both Housed” and YOURSELF are NOT introducing- and will NEVER introduce a bill to honor (post mortem): John Amery (Guilty of treason, executed on 19 December 1945); George Johnson Armstrong (Guilty of treachery, executed on 10 July 1941); Thomas Haller Cooper (member of Waffen-SS – Guilty of treason, sentence of death was commuted to life imprisonment – released 1953); Oswald John Job (Guilty of treachery, executed on 16 March 1944); William Joyce (Guilty of treason, executed on 3 January 1946); Theodore Schurch (Guilty of treachery, executed on 4 January 1946); Duncan Scott-Ford (Guilty of treachery, executed on 3 November 1942); Jose Estelle Key (Guilty of treachery, executed on 7 July 1942 at Wandsworth Prison, London, England), but go ecstatic about Mordechai Vanunu? Would you like to explain that to the rest of us?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Allied_traitors_during_World_War_II

        Reply to Comment
    4. Simmary

      Is Mordechai Vanunu allowed to attend a place of worship?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Yes.

        Beyond that, the restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu are specific, very limited and in the interest of National Security – as prescribed by law. Mordechai Vanunu is his own worst enemy because he inter alia is (a) unrepentant, (b) unremorseful and above all (c) confirms in his own words that he will do the exact things Israeli Security Agencies fear he would do to harm National Security.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Ben Zakkai

      On any given day, one may see Vanunu walking along Salahaddin St. in East Jerusalem, or sometimes having a cup of coffee at a sidewalk cafe. He is not accompanied by Israeli security personnel, nor is there any way for them to monitor his every word and move. If he still possessed sensitive information — 30 years after his crime — and wanted to reveal it to another, he could do so easily, most probably without being detected. Of course, the State of Israel knows that he poses no security risk. But it keeps him in Israel, against his will, and under onerous restrictions, despite the fact that he finished serving his 18-year sentence (most of it spent in solitary confinement) many years ago, because the State is petty and vengeful and will never let him receive a hero’s welcome abroad. It is shameful.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn4

        He is a traitor, not a simple criminal and shall be treated accordingly. Why for heaven’s sake would any country allow a traitor to receive a hero’s welcome anywhere?

        In my view he should continue to suffer a traitor’s fate until his last days.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bryan

          An eloquent defence of the continued detention of Pollard.

          Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            …talking about “eloquent defense”, Vanunu is NOT being “detained”, turd.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            I didn’t say he was – I referred to Kolumn4’s remark “Why for heaven’s sake would any country allow a traitor to receive a hero’s welcome anywhere?”. You unthinking, automatic reflexes remind me of someone with Tourette’s syndrome.

            Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            Bryan, your comment is there for everyone to read. Your denial does not make sense, moron.

            Reply to Comment
    6. Mikesailor

      K-$: Then you would agree that the US should not ever release Pollard? Even after his sentence is served lest he be allowed a “hero’s welcome” in Israel. For he is definitely a traitor. As for Ginger: Another stupid statement by a resident hasbarista. The sentence for Vanunu was supposed to have ended with his release form prison so many years ago. Instead it is akin to the “double secret probation” found in the movie: “Animal House”. Is seems that Israel never has a need to give public hearings, or even public reasons based on some semblance of evidence for the strictures placed upon Vanunu. Instead, they have bought the “security services” supposed argument without even placing such argument in any public record. As I’ve said before, Israel’s legal system cannot be called “kangaroo” for it gives marsupials a bad name. It is a sham masquerading as a legal system to give fictitious cover to a racist, brutal political philosophy. Law and justice have nothing to do with it.

      Reply to Comment
      • ICat

        Mohamed, has it not occurred to you that everyone has figured out that you are NOT an “American” as you claim, because you, unlike a 7-yrs old natural born citizen of the United States, are consistently incapable of making complete and correct English sentences (and I am not talking about typos here)? Even after reading the hundreds of beautiful comments of some commenters here and borrowing their words and expressions to better your English and sound as eloquent as they do, you are still unable to make complete and correct English sentences, because you don’t understand what- and where the mistakes are and how to correct them and as a result keep making the same mistakes over and over again! Go home Mohamed …eh.. “Mikesailor”, find a job and quit beating your wife, retard.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Mikesailor

      Hairball: I see I have my very own stalker-kitty. Owner hasn’t been feeding you enough hasbara treats lately? Again you don’t answer questions, you merely attempt to deflect attention from the question at hand. Bad kitty. Stop your kvetching and make a cogent argument sometime. If you can. Otherwise you may continue following in my footsteps as it were.

      Reply to Comment
      • ICat

        Mohamed …eh… “Mikesailor”, incoherent rants and ramblings brought forward in very bad English wherein you insult others without even understanding what they said (because you do not command English, though you claim that you are an “American”!), are neither arguments nor questiona. I am sure Kolumn4, Ginger and others won’t respond to your usual mambadunga-mambadunga-talk. I respond to you because you are my very good friend, Mohamed.

        Reply to Comment