Mordecai Vanunu shocked the world (and the Israeli government) in 1986 when he revealed that Israel was secretly building an atomic bomb. He spent 18 years in an Israeli prison, 11 of them in solitary confinement. The Israeli government has just laid new charges against him. A Canadian priest who knows Vanunu speaks about the issue. Read more.
The Israeli government has laid new charges against a 62 year old pacifist whistle blower, who has been out of jail for more than ten years. His new crime? He spoke on Israeli television to Israelis about their government’s dangerous nuclear program.
In a short video interview, Canadian Anglican Priest Reverend William Roberts, who knows Vanunu well, argues that the new charges have little to do with Israeli security and a lot to do with an ongoing program of Israeli harassment against him.
The specific grounds for these new charges, ten years following Vanunu’s release appear to be rather flimsy. According to his attorney, the indictment accuses him among other things of moving to another apartment IN THE SAME BUILDING’ without telling police, something the lawyer calls a “record low in Israeli harassment” of the former whistleblower. But the real reason appears to be that after 18 years, Vanunu is unrepentant.
Vanunu was born in Morocco in 1954. His Orthodox Jewish family moved to Israel in 1963, when he was 9 years old. After his Israeli military service, he worked as a nuclear technician at Israel’s super secret nuclear facility in Dimona, in the Negev desert.
However, in 1986, his growing opposition to Israel’s development of weapons of mass destruction led him to flee, first to Australia and then to Britain . He brought with him proof of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, at that time not known to the world.
The story of how Vanunu was lured to Italy from Britain by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and abducted by Israeli intelligence agents, transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a secret trial, was exposed by the BBC in a 2007 television documentary that has all the cloak and dagger style of a fictional James Bond story.
But for the now 62 year old pacifist, it was all too true.
Vanunu spent 11 years in solitary confinement – a kind of torture that makes most men go crazy. But he survived. Released from prison over a decade ago, Vanunu remains under close Israeli surveillance in Jerusalem. Although all the nuclear information he has is now more than 30 years old, Israel refuses to allow him to leave the country, and imposes harsh conditions on him including limiting his contacts with outsiders.
As Reverend Roberts suggests, readers who want to help Vanunu can probably best do so by talking about the issue or sending this blog post or the BBC documentary around to their friends.
Another approach might be to write directly to the Israeli ambassador in Canada, His Excellency Rafael Barak. He can be reached at: Ambassadorfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments? Do you think Vanunu still has valuable secrets 30 years after he left Dimona? Or is this just vindictive harassment of a courageous pacifist? Do you think Canada should offer Vanunu asylum? All opinions welcome.