The High Court on Sunday rejected a petition by nuclear leaker Mordechai Vanunu asking that he be allowed to leave the country, among a number of eased restrictions.
It was the seventh time the court has told Vanunu, convicted of treason and espionage for leaking Israel’s nuclear secrets to a British newspaper in 1986, that he cannot leave the country.
The court also upheld a series of restrictions aimed at limiting Vanunu’s contact with foreign agents.
The ruling came in response to a Thursday petition by Vanunu, who told the High Court he found life in Israel too difficult to endure, and called on it to lift the warrant banning him from leaving the country or contacting foreigners.
Vanunu served 18 years in prison after being convicted in 1988, and had a number of restrictions imposed upon him when he was released, which remain in place.
“I don’t want to live in Israel,” Vanunu, who has said he won’t speak Hebrew until he is allowed to leave the country, told the court in English.
“I cannot live here as a convicted spy, a traitor, an enemy and a Christian,” he said.
Vanunu, who converted to Christianity in the 1980s, added that he is often subjected to harassment by the Israeli public wherever he is recognized.
In 1986, Vanunu leaked details of Israel’s reported military nuclear program to The Sunday Times, blowing the cover off Israel’s nuclear ambiguity.
Vanunu compared his past actions to those of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“Snowden is the best example for what I did 25 years ago — when the government breaks the law and tramples on human rights, people talk. That’s what he did, he speaks for everyone, and that’s what I did — I spoke for everyone.”
Vanunu is prohibited from visiting foreign territories, including the West Bank and embassies within Israel, and can only meet with foreign nationals after securing permission from security forces.
Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report.