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Vanunu blasts Israel in Internet chat with Norwegian readers

By The Associated Press
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/568445.html
April 22, 2005

OSLO, Norway - Nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu lashed out at Israel Friday in an Internet chat with readers in Norway, defying a ban on contact with foreigners.

The former nuclear technician exposed his country's nuclear weapons program in 1986, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

"I saved Israel from its madness to go toward nuclear genocide war," Vanunu said in the chat set up by Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. "I am very proud of publishing nuclear secret."

Vanunu, released from prison last year, has been in the news in Norway after it rejected his asylum application.

Dagbladet editor Helge Oegrim said they repeatedly called Vanunu on a secret telephone number to be sure he was the person answering the readers.

"I'm not saying it couldn't be a top spy answering," Oegrim told The Associated Press. "But we feel very certain that this is the real person."

Vanunu confirmed to the Associated Press in Israel that he had participated in the Norwegian paper's question and answer session.

Israel this week extended a ban on Vanunu leaving the country or contacting foreigners for another year, drawing protests the London-based human rights group Amnesty International.

Security officials have said Vanunu could still have classified information that he didn't release earlier

Vanunu, 50, said he was taking the risk of contact with foreigners because to help continue his campaign against nuclear weapons in Israel and the world.

"All my activity here is open and known to everyone," said Vanunu. " The Israel government can put me back in prison if they want."

Vanunu has applied for asylum in numerous countries, including Norway, which rejected his request because he applied at Oslo's embassy in Israel rather than in Norway as required. The government also said it feared compromising its role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Vanunu, who has repeatedly been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize given annually in Oslo, said he was disappointed by the rejection, but buoyed by support from the Norwegian people, including a city that offered him shelter under an international program to protect persecuted writers.

Vanunu was convicted of treason in 1988 for divulging information and pictures of Israel's top secret nuclear reactor. The details, published in London's Sunday Times, led experts to conclude that Israel has the sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, including hundreds of warheads.

Israel neither acknowledges nor denies having a nuclear weapons' program, following a policy of nuclear ambiguity.


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