Thursday, May 13, 2010

Amnesty International Press Release: Israeli government urged not to jail Vanunu again!


12 May 2010
AI Index: PRE01/154/2010

Amnesty International today urged the Israeli government not to imprison nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who is facing a return to jail within days.

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on 11 May that Vanunu, who served 18 years in prison for revealing information about Israel’s nuclear programme, must serve a further three months for meeting a foreign national, a violation of the restrictions imposed on him by the military since his release.

“If Mordechai Vanunu is imprisoned again, Amnesty International will declare him to be a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Vanunu, 56, who is banned from leaving the country, told Amnesty International on 12 May: “Whether I go to prison or not, it doesn’t matter to me. I feel like I’m in prison already, trapped in Israel.” 

A former technician at Israel's nuclear plant near the southern town of Dimona, Vanunu revealed details of the country's nuclear arsenal to UK newspaper The Sunday Times in 1986.

He was abducted by Mossad agents in Italy on 30 September 1986 and secretly taken to Israel where he was tried and sentenced to a prison term of 18 years, the first 11 years of which he spent in solitary confinement.

When he was released in April 2004, the Israeli authorities considered placing him under administrative detention, but the option was rejected as illegal by Israel’s Attorney General.

Instead, he has been subject to police supervision since his release under the terms of a draconian military order which is renewed every six months, most recently in April 2010. According to the order, Vanunu is banned from communicating with foreigners, including journalists; he cannot leave the country; he is forbidden from visiting foreign embassies; and must inform the authorities if he wishes to change addresses.

“The ongoing restrictions placed on Mordechai Vanunu have meant that he has been unable to move to the USA to live with his adopted family, placing a huge strain on his mental and physical health,” said Philip Luther.

“They.are not parole restrictions since he served his full 18-year term. They arbitrarily limit his rights to freedom of movement, expression and association are therefore in breach of international law.” 

Vanunu was convicted on 30 April 2007 of contact with a foreign national without authorization and sentenced to six months, reduced on appeal to three.

He was given the option of doing community service in West Jerusalem instead of serving the three months in jail. He declined, citing fears for his safety as many Israelis consider him a national traitor, and instead offered to carry out the service in Palestinian East Jerusalem, where he now lives. The court refused and ordered him to be returned to jail by 23 May.

Speaking to Amnesty International, Vanunu expressed a sense of hopelessness, saying despite international efforts when he was in prison and subsequently to lift the restrictions imposed on him by the Israeli authorities “no one has been able to help for 24 years”.

Public Document

For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it  

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

Dear Amnesty International,

Thanks you for your PRESS RELEASE of May 12, 2010 regarding Mordechai Vanunu.

I offer you a few more facts:

The restrictions that have held Vanunu captive come from the Emergency Defense Regulations which were implemented by Britain against Palestinians and Jews after World War II.

Attorney Yaccov Shapiro, who later became Israel's Minister Of Justice, described the Emergency Defense Regulations as "unparalleled in any civilized country: there were no such laws in Nazi Germany."

Israel kidnapped Vanunu in 1986, but Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: "No one shall he subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention", including abduction of a person by agents of one state to another state.

Vanunu was charged with and convicted of treason and espionage.

Section 99 of the Israeli Penal Code, treason is defined as "an act calculated to assist (an enemy) in time of war...delivering information with the intention that it fall into the hands of the enemy."

Section 113 defines aggravated espionage as "deliver(ing) any secret information without being authorized to do so and with intent to impair the security of the state" and a sub-clause provides for a penalty of seven years for the unauthorized collection, preparation, recording or holding of secret information; if this is done with intent to impair the security of the state and then, the penalty is increased to 15 years.

Vanunu served 18 years in jail and has been subjected to 24/7 surveillance ever since 21 April 2004.

Frank Barnaby, the Nuclear Physicist, who was hired by the London Sunday Times to interrogate Vanunu, testified at his closed door trial, "I very vigorously cross-examined Vanunu, relentlessly asking the same questions in a number of different ways and at different times...I found Vanunu very straightforward about his motives for violating Israel's secrecy laws he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically."

But, Vanunu was rendered defenseless during that closed door trial when the court ruled that his motivations were not ideological and they refused to allow Vanunu's own statements regarding his intentions to even be considered in his defense.

During my interviews with Vanunu, he informed me that, "All the secrets I had were published in 1989 in an important book, by Frank Barnaby, The Invisible Bomb: Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East."


On November 24th, 2006 Vanunu wrote:

"My lawyer succeeded to reveal a few very important facts: This General of the Army also was not allowed to see all the secrets that he is required to protect by these restrictions that they claim I know them. So, he gave orders of restrictions without knowing what he is protecting or that he is also following orders blindly, and Mossad Sheen Bet using its authority for just punishing me. He testified that it is not a crime for me to talk with foreigners in general anywhere. He testified that I can speak freely to any Israeli citizens about anything; it is not his concern what I am saying to them. These Israelis can give this information to any foreigners. It was difficult for the Judge to understand why this dichotomy exits between foreigners and Israelis. It means that it is not about secrecy but about something else."

Israel’s statehood was contingent upon upholding the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.

Article 19 affirms: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 13 guarantees: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.


On September 23, 2008, the Jerusalem District Court reduced Mordechai Vanunu’s six month jail sentence for speaking with foreign media in 2004, to three months, "In light of (Vanunu’s) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country’s security in jeopardy."

In light of the fact that it has been 20 months since that verdict came down, please continue to pressure Israel until they are led to to show mercy and do justice: FREE Vanunu.

Most sincerely,

Eileen Fleming,
Founder of
A Feature Correspondent for
Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"  
Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"

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