Nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu will have to spend another year in Israel, following the dismissal Sunday by the High Court of Justice of his petition against the extension of restrictions on his movement and behavior.
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It was the seventh time the restrictions have been extended, since they were imposed when Vanunu was released from prison in 2004. The country’s security agencies and attorney general argued in favor of the restrictions.
Vanunu served 18 years in prison for revealing classified information about Israel’s nuclear program, garnered during his employment at the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona.
He is prohibited from leaving Israel, including travel over the Green Line, from communicating with foreigners and from conducting online communications without written permission. He is also prohibited from revealing any classified information that came to his attention during his work in DImona, including information that he had previously revealed. In 2007 he was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for violating the restrictions.
In his latest petition, filed by attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard, Vanunu argued that a considerable amount of time had passed since he had worked in the Dimona center and committed the offenses for which he was convicted, and that not enough weight was being given to this passage of time. Vanunu also claimed that information about Israel’s nuclear capabilities published since his release “immeasurably exceeds” what he could add today. He added that the restrictions imposed on him represent a disproportionate violation of several fundamental rights, and constitute additional punishment even though he has served his sentence.
The state countered through lawyers Dan Eldad and Aner Helman that Vanunu still possesses unpublished classified information and that he is trying to get the information published. To this end, the state’s lawyers presented classified material that was not made public.
In the decision, written by Supreme Court President Asher Grunis on behalf of himself and justices Miriam Naor and Isaac Amit, the court said that “after examining the extensive material submitted to the court, we are convinced that there is no reason to intervene in the decision of the respondents to extend the validity of the orders for another year.”
Grunis added, “One cannot say that the orders constitute a means of punishment, as claimed by the petitioner. The orders were designed to prevent future dissemination of classified information. In recent years, the court has examined several times the necessity of the orders, and has been convinced, time after time, that they are needed to protect national security.”
Grunis said that from the privileged material shown to the justices it emerges that Vanunu “is still collecting classified information and has not backed down from his plans to disseminate the information.”