Legal battle for Vanunu trial transcripts
by Rayna Moss
Aug 11 2000
Since February 2000, the Israeli Committee for
Mordechai Vanunu and for a Middle East Free of Atomic, Biological and Chemical
Weapons, has been waging a legal battle to obtain 1,200 pages of transcripts
from the 1986 trial of Mordechai Vanunu, that was conducted in camera.
This action followed the November 1999 publication in Israeli newspaper
Yediot Ahronot of parts of the transcripts. After this historic
publication, it was found that the newspaper had publicized the documents
shortly before a court order was handed down, releasing the previously
secret 1,200 pages, which represent about 40 percent of the entire trial
transcripts. (For additional background, please see emails from the undersigned,
dating from November 1999, and the website of the US Campaign for Mordechai
Vanunu). Simultaneously, a petition is pending that was submitted by Adv.
Avigdor Feldman, Vanunu's attorney, to release all of the transcripts.
The separate request by the Israeli Committee was necessary, since the
court order only addressed the release of the documents to Yediot Ahronot.
In the months since February, repeated requests
were made by members of the Israeli Committee to the State Attorney's office,
to receive the documents. Finally, Committee member Gideon Spiro petitioned
the Court for an order to force the State Attorney to release the documents
to the committee. In July, the Commissioner for Security in the Ministry
of Defense, an official whose identity is a State secret and who is in
charge, among other things, of the nuclear issue, submitted an official
objection to the Court, stating that the past revelation of the trial transcripts
had endangered State security by arousing a public debate on Israel's nuclear
In a surprising move, the Court refused to accept
this argument, and ordered the State Attorney to release the transcripts
to the Committee, or file for a new gag order within five days. In early
August, after the State Attorney did not renew the attempts to prevent
the release, 857 pages of transcripts were handed over to Gideon Spiro
of the Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu.
However, Spiro immediately petitioned the Court
again, arguing that Yediot Ahronot newspaper had in November received
1,200 pages, and demanding that all released material be given to him.
This time, the judge gave the State Attorney no leeway, and ordered the
immediate release of the rest of the material. On August 10, six months
after the first request by the Committee, we have received all 1,200 pages
of transcripts that were released by Court order.
Members of the Israeli Committee for Mordechai
Vanunu are currently reviewing the released material and preparing it for
translation into English, towards issuing it in print and making these
historic documents available to the public at large in both Hebrew and
English. Donations for this project are welcome. Please contact:
The Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu
and for a Middle East Free of Atomic, Biological and Chemical Weapons
Yael Lotan: email@example.com
Rayna Moss: firstname.lastname@example.org