Cause célèbre. Vanunu
Photo: Avi Mualem

Vanunu upon release from jail: Let me leave this country

Nuclear whistle-blower freed from prison after 11 weeks; accuses media of not protecting his rights

Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu was freed from jail on Sunday after serving 11 weeks behind bars for breaking the terms of his release and meeting a foreigner, a prison official said.


Following his release, Vanunu told reporters in English that he is not a nuclear scientist but a technician who has no knowledge of nuclear weapons.


He said it was time Israeli authorities allow him to leave the country, and accused the media of not fighting for his human rights and freedom.


'No nuclear knowledge.' Vanunu outside prison (Photo: Avi Mualem)


Vanunu began serving a three-month sentence at a prison in Ramla near Tel Aviv on May 23.


A court had in December ordered him to do three months community service or serve three months in prison for violating the terms of his release from jail back in 2004.


The former nuclear technician was arrested in December at a Jerusalem hotel while talking to a Norwegian woman -- a violation of the terms laid down when he was freed after serving 18 years for disclosing the inner workings of Israel's Dimona nuclear plant to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper.


The 55-year-old had opted for community service but asked the Supreme Court if he could perform it in Arab east Jerusalem for fear he would be harassed by Israelis on the mainly Jewish western side of the city.


The court rejected his request and ordered him to serve three months behind bars.


Vanunu was originally jailed in 1986 and spent more than 10 of his 18 years in prison in solitary confinement.


Since then, he has been detained several times for violating the terms of his release that ban him from travel or contact with foreigners.


Vanunu became an international cause celebre during his time in prison.


At home, he is still widely reviled for converting to Christianity shortly before he was kidnapped in Italy and shipped back to Israel.


Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, with around 200 warheads, but it has a policy of neither confirming nor denying that.


פרסום ראשון: 08.08.10, 15:48
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