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Mordechai Vanunu, the former Dimona nuclear technician who served 18 years in prison for leaking classified information to a British newspaper, began serving a three-month jail term yesterday for violating the terms of his release.

Vanunu was been accused of illegally communicating with foreign journalists and nationals. After he completed his incarceration in 2004, authorities denied Vanunu permission to contact foreign nationals.

He was convicted by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court and sentenced to six months in jail. The punishment was reduced to three months of community service following an appeal by Vanunu to the Jerusalem District Court.

Vanunu asked the court to allow him to perform community service in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem for fear that he may be harmed if compelled to work with Israelis. When this request was rejected, Vanunu then sought to appeal to the Supreme Court, which ruled that his refusal to perform community service compelled him to serve time behind bars.

Vanunu used his court appearance to assail the Israeli authorities.

"I survived 18 years, I could survive another six," Vanunu said outside the Jerusalem District Court. "Are you trying to discipline me? You cannot take my freedom of expression away."

"Freedom is freedom. You won't get from me in three months what you didn't get in 18 years," he added.

He warned that the Shin Bet security service "controls the prisons" and that they will try to torture him psychologically, the same way they did the last time he was incarcerated.

"Shame on you Israel," he added.