Mordechai Vanunu
Photo: Reuters
Beinish. 'A special person'
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Restrictions on Vanunu to be reviewed in 6 months

Convicted atom spy asks Supreme Court to lift limitations he was placed under after serving 18-year sentence, swears to never publicly speak about matters of national security again

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the warrants prohibiting convicted atom spy Mordechai Vanunu from leaving Israel and speaking to the foreign media would be reviewed, and possibly lifted, in six months.


Vanunu was found guilty of espionage and treason in late 1986 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He completed his sentence in 2004, and was released under a slew of restrictions:


He was barred from leaving Israel, entering any of the Palestinian Authority territories, talking to foreign press or coming anywhere near a foreign embassy, since they are essentially not under Israeli jurisdiction. He was also required to report all of his actions to his parole officers.


Vanunu told the court that in order to have the restrictions lifted, he was willing to pledge that he would never again speak about matters concerning national security in public. He added that he wanted to get out from under the Shin Bet and the Mossad's control, and that he would like to leave Israel permanently.


"Twenty-five years are long enough," he told reporters outside the courtroom.


Vanunu, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times, also gave the press a letter he wrote to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, asking then to drop his name from their list.


His reason for doing so, he explained, was the fact that President Shimon Peres has also been shortlisted for the prize. Peres "is the man behind Israel's atom policies," he said, adding that the the president had "continuously denied me my freedom."


'Vanunu cannot be trusted'

The former spy has filed dozens of petitions demanding the restrictions he was placed under be annulled: "It seems that as far as the State Prosecutor's Office is concerned, time has stood still," said Vanunu's lawyer, Avigdor Feldman.


Feldman further argued that "the world has lost interest in him. It does not make sense to keep him locked up for the rest of his life." Feldman also reiterated his client's pledge never to speak publicly about matters of national security, adding that all Vanunu wanted to do now was "settle down and start a family… or do we have to wait for the Iranian regime to change?"


Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, however, did not agree with Feldman's "lack of interest" theory, saying that "the case is still generating great interest, like any other security-related case. The media's attention he gets is proof of that."


Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan argued that while Vanunu's offer may indicate a change on his part, "how can he be trusted after he has consistently violated every order ever issued against him? The Supreme Court, under three different panels, already ruled that he is still in possession of top secret information that has never been released."


The court, he added must consider Vanunu's past behavior in such matters.


Justice Beinish noted that Vanunu's pledge was a new element, which should prompt the prosecution to reconsider: "(He) is a special man, headstrong and if he really intends to uphold the warrant and prove his earnest, then he should be able to apply for the orders to be lifted, after a certain amount of time has passed."


Beinish ordered the matter be reexamined in six months. 


פרסום ראשון: 07.06.09, 14:16
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