Vanunu Is Happy With the Publication

Yediot Ahronot
November 25, 1999
By David Regev and Yoram Yarkoni

That is what he told sources in the prison. His attorney cautioned: the transcripts that were published yesterday was censored and only represented the position of the Shin-Bet. About Vanunu: He does not regret the affair, he hopes to be released soon, and meantime he converses about life with another prisoner, private investigator Rafi Friedan.

Mordechai Vanunu yesterday told sources in Shikma prison, where he is serving his sentence, that he is happy about the exposure of the transcript of his trial in Yediot Ahronot, and that he hopes that the additional details that were not yet published will be revealed.

Yesterday morning Vanunu received the newspaper. According to eyewitnesses, he expressed happiness at the exposure, but he quickly returned to his daily routine: reading, meeting with other prisoners and walking in the yard.

Vanunu's attorney, Adv. Avigdor Feldman, was angry about not having been a partner in the process of granting the permit to publicize the transcripts. "I supported full publication, not partial publication," said Adv. Feldman. "The publication was very selective and represented the position of the Shin-Bet. It was only 40% of the transcripts."

"That version was heavily censored and usually presented Vanunu's voice only indirectly, through the mouth of the Shin-Bet and others. My feelings about the publication are mixed: on one hand, I regret that the authentic voice of Vanunu is only heard in a broken way in the publication. On the other hand, it is very important, since even from what was published arises the figure of a man, who was for many years "the man in the iron mask" and now he is starting to be portrayed as a thinking human being, intelligent and sensitive, who chose to act at a personal risk. He was warned more than once or twice that he could be captured by the Shin-Bet," said Feldman.

According to him, the publication of the material that still remains secret cannot harm State security. "This concerns statements out of Vanunu's testimony in court," he said.

Feldman promised to work for the full publication of the trial transcript, except for a few details that are classified as top secret. "Meanwhile, it has not yet been revealed what led Vanunu to hand over the information to the Sunday Times and how the connection with the paper was made. Nor was it revealed what happened to him after he left the reactor," Feldman explained.

Yesterday, Feldman spoke about Vanunu's routine in prison: "He has a television. He listens to the radio, but only to the BBC. He reads a lot of books about philosophy and history and in his cell he also has literature about the struggle against nuclear weapons. Since he was taken out of solitary confinement, several months ago, he met in prison private investigator Rafi Friedan. They are both intelligent people who talk about life."

Shortly after Vanunu was first allowed to come into contact with other prisoners and walk in the yard for most hours of the day, he came into conflict with the Jewish prisoners. Vanunu asked for permission to meet and talk with security prisoners, mostly Palestinians, arguing that he had converted and is no longer Jewish.

Next week the Prisons Service parole board is expected to convene, in order to re-address the possibility of Vanunu's early release. This will be done on the basis of an appeal, after his petition for release after serving two-thirds of his sentence was rejected. Vanunu was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment and has served 13 years. If one-third of his sentence had been deducted, Vanunu would already be free.

When Feldman was asked whether Vanunu regrets his action, he replied: "He has not changed his position one bit. He continues to believe that information about nuclear weapons must not remain secret. He opposes unsupervised nuclear weapons."