Vanunu sues Yedioth Ahronoth for libel

Ha'aretz
Sept 8 00

Mordechai Vanunu submitted a NIS 30 million libel suit against Yedioth Ahronoth daily newspaper at the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday. No defense has been submitted yet.

Vanunu claims that on November 25, 1999, the paper published a false report about him, saying that he had given fellow prisoners who were also members of Hamas men information about manufacturing bombs. The story appeared on the second page of the paper under the headline "He did it again."

The report claimed that Vanunu delivered notes containing information about bomb manufacturing to prisoners who were members of the Palestinian terrorist organization.

Vanunu's attorney, Avigdor Feldman, said that the story was published without asking for a comment from Vanunu and without asking the Prisons Authority to confirm the information. In his suit, Vanunu added that the Prisons Authority commissioner denied the facts the day after the story was published.

Vanunu said that the story gave the impression that he was aiding enemies of the state and terror organizations to act against innocent civilians, whereas he has always insisted that he acted with his conscience as a pacifist who objected to nuclear armament and he never intended to cause harm to Israel.

Vanunu believes that the defendants should pay him a large sum in compensation because of the newspaper's high circulation and because the defendants did not follow journalistic ethics concerning the fact that he is a prisoner. Vanunu is serving an 18-year sentence in the Shikma prison, Ashkelon for revealing Israel's nuclear secrets to the British Sunday Times.