Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Israel to Free Vanunu but with Tough Restrictions; AFTER 18 YEARS IN JAIL, MAN WHO LEAKED NUCLEAR SECRETS FACES TRAVEL BAN

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Israel to Free Vanunu but with Tough Restrictions; AFTER 18 YEARS IN JAIL, MAN WHO LEAKED NUCLEAR SECRETS FACES TRAVEL BAN

Article excerpt

Byline: HUGH DOUGHERTY

THE man who blew the whistle on Israel's nuclear weapons programme was due to be freed today after 18 years in prison.

But there was a last minute hitch when prison officers said he could not leave until he gave them an address. Mordechai Vanunu is at the high-security Shikma prison. Outside is a delegation of international anti-nuclear campaigners led by British actress Susannah York.

She said: "You feel, 'here is a hero for our times, a man who cannot be silenced'. I just say, 'welcome back to life, Mordechai.'" Shinji Noma, from Hiroshima, said he had exchanged letters with Vanunu for the past five years.

"He wrote to me that his act was to stop a Hiroshima in the Middle East," Mr Noma said.

Vanunu will immediately be put under surveillance and banned from leaving Israel for a year by its hardline government, which claims he remains a threat to national security.

The former nuclear worker has been told he is forbidden from going within 100 yards of a foreign embassy for the next six months in case he claims asylum.

His telephone will be bugged and he will need to seek permission to have contact with foreigners or the media.

Ariel Sharon's government has launched a massive campaign to convince the world that Mr Vanunu - who spent 11 years in solitary confinement - remains a danger to Israel's security.

"Mordechai Vanunu has revealed state secrets about the Dimona nuclear plant," the Israeli defence ministry said. "He still possesses state secrets, including some which he has not revealed."

The ban on him leaving the country was because of "a tangible danger" that he wanted to "divulge state secrets", it added.

But Vanunu's supporters claim he is being persecuted for revealing Israel's secret nuclear weapons programme almost 20 years ago, then becoming a Christian while in prison and questioning the need for a Jewish state. …

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