Following his arrest at a West Bank checkpoint Friday, the Tel Aviv Magistrates court released him on bail this evening, and acting on the demands of the Police Unit for International Crimes, Vanunu will be taken to the Jerusalem church where he has been staying since his release in April 2004.
The state prosecution demanded that Vanunu, who was jailed for 18 years for revealing Israel’s secret nuclear program to The Sunday Times, post a bail of NIS 50,000 (USD 10,600) for his release.
Video by Yaron Brenner
On his arrival to the court Vanunu said that all he wants is to leave Israel. He told reporters that he traveled to the West Bank village of al-Ram in order to see “Palestinian ghettos.”
Since his release Vanunu has been legally bound by a series of restrictions forbidding him from speaking to foreign nationals, speaking of his work in the nuclear facility, and approaching crossings into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Police charged that Vanunu was arrested because he had breached a military decree banning Israelis from crossing checkpoints into the Palestinian territories without previous permission.
“Vanunu possesses secret information about the nuclear reactor, information that he disclosed without permission, and he intends to publicize this information in the world. There are fears that if he leaves Israel he will meet enemies of the state and publicize information that has been keot secret so far…. ‘he is a ticking bomb’”, Chief Superintendent Yair Regev told the court.
Avigdor Feldman, Vanunu’s attorney, argued that his client did not breach a military decree banning Israelis from entering Palestinian areas because the Palestinian village he visited is situated within the Greater Jerusalem area.
The court ruled that Vanunu posts a bail of NIS 7,500 (USD 1600), turning down the initial sum set by the prosecution. The court imposed no further restrictions on Vanunu.
Vanunu was released from prison in April 2004 after 18 years. He was convicted of revealing Israel's nuclear secrets to the British Sunday Times magazine while working as a radiation inspector in Dimona's nuclear reactor. He was caught by Mossad agents in an apartment building in Rome, and was smuggled to Israel by sea.
Vanunu spent the last 18 years in a separate unit of Ashkelon's Shikma prison. A day before he was released, former Interior Minister Avraham Poraz signed on his release terms.
According to the restrictions, Vanunu must report on all his moves in advance and is forbidden to approach air and sea ports or areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Whenever he wishes to spend the night somewhere other than his residence or to leave his town, he must inform the commander of the closest police station at least 24 hours in advance.