Rabbis call for Vanunu release

from the London Sunday Times
September 30 2001

by Peter Hounam

Twelve prominent rabbis from Britain, Israel and several other countries have demanded the release of Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli technician jailed for 18 years in 1986 for revealing the secrets of his country's nuclear weapons programme to The Sunday Times.

The 12 - who include Yitzhak Newman, a former chief rabbi of the Royal Air Force - have written to Moshe Katsav, the Israeli president, asking for a pardon on humanitarian grounds and to "demonstrate the strength of Israeli democracy and improve Israel's standing in the world".

The request was organised by Daniel Rohrlich, an Israeli-based campaigner for Vanunu's release, who took part in a vigil outside the presidential palace in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Similar events were held in other cities including London and Washington.

Avigdor Feldman, Vanunu's lawyer, said he is trying to convince the authorities that, after 15 years, none of Vanunu's knowledge could present a security risk.

Vanunu became concerned at the scale of Israel's nuclear programme after working in the weapons plant near Dimona in the Negev desert. He has been refused parole, and may be prevented from leaving Israel when he completes his sentence in 2004.