Over Decade After Release, Israeli Nuclear Whistle-blower Vanunu Faces New Charges

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Mordechai Vanunu in court, 2010.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Convicted nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu was indicted in Jerusalem on Sunday for violating a legal order.

One of the charges accused him of moving house without first informing the police, even though he only moved to a different apartment in the same building. Vanunu’s attorney slammed the state for persecuting his client.

Vanunu spent 18 years in prison for revealing Israeli nuclear secrets, and was released 12 years ago under a host of restrictions on his activities and has been arrested a number of times for violating his parole and was even jailed for the infringements.

The new indictment, filed by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office, indicates how closely Vanunu is still being monitored. For example, the charge sheet says, “On April 21, 2013, at around 9 P.M., the accused met with foreign citizens at the Jerusalem Hotel in East Jerusalem, arranging it in advance without getting permission.” The names and passport numbers of two American citizens are listed in the indictment.

The third charge claims that Vanunu passed on classified information from his work at the nuclear research center in Dimona during an interview with Channel 2, which was broadcast last September.

The information divulged by Vanunu was not new, as he had already discussed it in the media before. But the conditions of his release forbid him from passing on any classified information, even if it has previously been published.

Vanunu was convicted of violating a legal order before, in 2007, when he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.

Attorney Avigdor Feldman, who represents Vanunu, said the state had filed this indictment to prepare the ground for hearings regarding the ban on his client leaving Israel. The ban had expired but was extended by a temporary court order.

“Filing an indictment for a single meeting with two foreigners that occurred three years ago, for moving [apartment] at the same address, and in the end for an interview he gave to Danny Kushmaro at Channel 2, which passed the censor, is a record low for the state in its persecution and abuse of Mordechai Vanunu,” he said. “I’m ashamed, and whoever filed this indictment should be even more ashamed.”

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