The Release of Mordecai Vanunu

Apr 17, 2004

Hilary Westlake, a GR steering committee member is an activist with the Free Vanunu Campaign. She’s taking the unusual step of flying out to Israel tomorrow (Saturday 17 April). There she will join an international delegation of campaigners who aim to greet Mordechai Vanunu as he is released from prison. Here’s the story of Vanunu from Hilary. We also hope to publish updates from Israel as the release happens and the world’s greatest whistleblower steps into an uncertain future at the hands of the Israeli Government.

On April 21st, Mordechai Vanunu, the world’s most famous whistleblower, will be released from Ashkelon jail, after serving all of his 18 year prison sentence.

Mordechai Vanunu, a technician at Dimona, Israel’s nuclear installation, from 1976 to 1985, discovered that the plant was secretly producing nuclear weapons, despite Defence Minister Shimon Peres’ pledge in 1963 that Israel would “not be the first to introduce atomic weapons into the Middle East.”

Vanunu’s decided to speak out and in 1986 he provided the Sunday Times with photographs and information about Dimona. The published story “Revealed: The Secrets of Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal” has been described by Andrew Neil, the editor at the time, as was the most important scoop that the paper ever carried while he was editor. Vanunu’s evidence showed that Israel had stockpiled up to 200 nuclear warheads, and apparently had a number of thermonuclear bombs ready for use.

On 30th September 1986, Mordechai Vanunu was lured from London to Rome by a female Mossad agent he’d met in London’s West End. He was drugged and transported back to Israel where, in a secret trial, was sentenced to eighteen years for treason and espionage, twelve of those years spent in complete isolation, with only occasional visits from members of his family, his lawyer and a priest. All these meetings were conducted through a metal screen.

Even when Vanunu is released his confinement doesn’t end. It has recently been disclosed that he will have to remain in one city, that he is forbidden to go within several hundred metres of a foreign embassy, cannot speak to journalists or to any of his supporters and most significantly will not be granted a passport for six moths. These conditions can be renewed indefinitely. The official reason given for these appalling measures is that he still possesses classified information, either concerning Israel’s nuclear programme or his abduction. However, his information about Israel’s nuclear weapons is twenty years old; as for the kidnapping, the whole world knows about it. An article describing it even appeared in the Israeli press some years ago.

An international delegation is going to Israel for Mordechai’s release and to demand that he be granted unconditional freedom. Nearly 90 people from 11 countries, including British MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Colin Breed, are booked to go. Countries include America, UK, Australia, Japan, Italy, Holland, Norway, Hungary, Germany and Poland. Many more Israeli supporters are expected to join to join the delegation.

Although he will not be permitted to talk to his supporters, it is hoped that their presence will reassure Mordecai Vanunu of the enormous support he has worldwide and that the fight for a nuclear free world must continue.

Hilary Westlake

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