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 policy!

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: yaelot@zahav.net.il
Rayna Moss: legalese@netvision.net.il
Tel: +972-3-6882587
Fax: +972-3-6391311