Vanunu faces internal exile

from The Sunday Times
May 27 2001

Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv

THE ISRAELI defence ministry is considering preventing Mordechai Vanunu jailed in 1986 for revealing his country's nuclear weapons programme to The Sunday Times - from leaving Israel when he completes his 18- year sentence in 2004.

Yehiel Horev, the head of a special security department, suggested in secret this month that Vanunu would have to stay and would risk rearrest if he talked to the media.

Israeli security sources said Horev, a shadowy figure named only two years ago, had lobbied hard for Vanunu to serve his full sentence rather than receive parole.

Horev's department, which is responsible for protecting secrets, especially those relating to the nuclear programme, has been taking a harder line than Shin Beth, the internal security service.

Emergency regulations dating back to the British mandate rule of Palestine allow the state to bar a citizen from leaving if it believes he or she is a security risk.

Vanunu has said the only Israeli road he wants to see when he leaves his high-security prison is the one to the international airport.

Avigdor Feldman, his lawyer, said: "The state can do this, but I don't think such a decision would survive an appeal to the high court."