Nuclear secret spiller says Israel still ‘hounding’ him

Mordechai Vanunu, released in 2004 after 18 years jail for leaking nuke secrets to newspaper, awaits new sentence

Mordechai Vanunu seen at a Jerusalem Supreme Court hearing on January 30, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Mordechai Vanunu seen at a Jerusalem Supreme Court hearing on January 30, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Mordechai Vanunu, who divulged Israel’s nuclear secrets, on Monday accused the Jewish state of unnecessarily hounding him 12 years after he was freed from prison, as he appeared in court over breaches of his release terms.

The 62-year-old former nuclear technician was jailed in 1986 for disclosing the inner workings of Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant to Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.

He spent more than 10 years of his sentence in solitary confinement.

Israel is believed to be the Middle East’s sole — if undeclared — nuclear power, refusing to confirm or deny that it has such weapons.

Mordechai Vanunu speaks to the media at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, September 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Mordechai Vanunu speaks to the media at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, September 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Upon his release in 2004, Vanunu was slapped with a series of restraining orders, forbidding him from travel, contact with foreigners or speaking to media.

He has twice been jailed for breaking those orders.

In January, Vanunu was convicted of meeting with two US nationals in Jerusalem in 2013 without having permission to do so.

Monday’s appearance was a sentencing hearing over that conviction.

His lawyer told the court the meeting was a chat lasting “minutes” in a coffee shop with doctors visiting Israel.

He was cleared of two other charges, one of which related to an interview he gave to Israel’s Channel 2 television in 2015.

“I left prison and they put me in another prison,” he told the Jerusalem Magistrates Court. “I performed my punishment and they keep on punishing me.”

Israel nuclear program secrets leaker Mordechai Vanunu at a hearing in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on October 26, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The court did not pass sentence or set a date for sentencing, but Judge Yaron Mientkavich said he would consider ordering him to perform community service.

Vanunu told AFP outside the courtroom that he was confident that he would not return to jail.

“I knew there was no chance I would be going back to prison because they didn’t find me guilty on all the charges,” he said.

He added that more than 30 years after he worked in the nuclear plant, he had no more to reveal to anybody.

“All the nuclear secrets have gone,” he said in English. “I don’t have any nuclear secrets, and everything is on the internet.”

“After 18 years in prison it’s enough and more… they should let me go. All I want is freedom, that’s all.”

Israel has refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to allow international surveillance of its Dimona plant in the southern Negev desert.

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