Revised Brochure, New Booklets Available

A revised edition of the U.S. Campaign's basic educational brochure, Mordechai Vanunu: Nuclear whistleblower, Prisoner of conscience is now available free for local activists and organizers. It includes the new campaign address and other updates. The text of the brochure is included below. Please let us know how many you would like.

The British Campaign to Free Vanunu has recently produced two booklets. Vanunu and the Campaign is an eight-page chronology of the prisoner's case and the international effort seeking his freedom. Messages for Mordechai includes an interview with Mordechai, some of his poems, and messages from people who attended the London vigil commemorating the 14th anniversary of his kidnapping and imprisonment. They can be ordered for $3 each from the U.S. Campaign.

See How You Can Help for ordering these and other campaign resources.

Nuclear whistle-blower
Prisoner of conscience

The Vanunu Story

Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli nuclear technician, is serving an 18-year sentence in an Israeli prison for blowing the whistle on his government's secret nuclear weapons program. Captured by Israeli agents on September 30, 1986, he spent more than 11 1/2 years in solitary confinement.

One of 11 children of Moroccan Jewish parents who emigrated to Israel in 1963, when he was aged 9, Vanunu served in the Israeli army and then went to work as a young man in the Dimona nuclear "research center" in the Negev Desert near his home at Beersheba. The facility harbored an underground plutonium separation plant operated in strictest secrecy. As the years went by he grew increasingly troubled about his work in the nuclear bomb program. In 1985, before leaving Dimona, he took extensive photographs inside the factory in order to document the truth for his countrymen and the entire world.

Traveling through Asia with the film in his backpack, Vanunu made his way to Sydney, Australia, where he found companionship in an Anglican church social justice community with whom he shared the story of his nuclear background. In Sydney he also converted to Christianity and was baptized in July, 1986. A British newspaper, the London Sunday Times, learned of his story and sent a reporter to Sydney to check it out. The newspaper then flew Vanunu to England, where his photos and facts were further checked by British scientists familiar with nuclear weapons. Vanunu's story, published October 5, 1986, gave the world its first authoritative confirmation that tiny Israel had become a major nuclear weapons power, with material for as many as 200 nuclear warheads of advanced design.

Israeli agents got early wind of Vanunu's intentions. Even before publication of the story they had lured him from Britain, abducted him in Italy, and dumped his drugged body onto an Israeli cargo vessel bound for Israel. In the following months he was charged with espionage and treason and convicted at a closed-door trial. All legal appeals have been exhausted.

For the first 11 1/2 years of his imprisonment Vanunu was held in solitary confinement, denied human contact except with his guards, a lawyer, a priest, and the occasional visits of his siblings. This treatment was condemned by Amnesty International as "cruel, inhuman, and degrading."

In recent years, he has also been able to have occasional visits with Nicholas and Mary Eoloff, the St. Paul, Minnesota couple who adopted him in the fall of 1997. On March 12, 1998, he was released into the prison population but denied other privileges. Since then, he has been returned occasionally to solitary confinement due to minor rule infractions. He has also been denied parole or probation. There is growing concern about the effect of his prolonged isolation on his physical and mental health.

The Campaign For His Release

While acknowledging that Vanunu violated his secrecy oath as a nuclear weapons worker, thousands around the world regard him not as a spy or traitor but as one who gave his information freely and without compensation for the sake of others. In countries throughout the world he is honored for his courage and integrity in telling the simple truth at great personal risk.

Vanunu has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The European Parliament has called on Israel to release him on humanitarian grounds, as have the Federation of American Scientists, a task force of the American Physical Society, the International Peace Bureau, the Episcopal and Jewish peace fellowships, and religious, scientific, and cultural leaders and others concerned about human rights violations and the spread of nuclear weapons. Campaigns for his release are active in a dozen countries in addition to the United States and Israel.

The American campaign was founded and coordinated by veteran peace activist Sam Day until his death in January, 2001. Former associate coordinator Felice Cohen-Joppa now coordinates the campaign. Associate coordinators are Art Laffin and Jack Cohen-Joppa. The campaign publishes a quarterly newsletter; sells books, videotapes, T-shirts, and other educational materials about the case; provides speakers; organizes demonstrations at Israel's embassy in Washington and consulates around the country; lobbies in Washington, D.C.; assists campaigns in other countries, and provides subsistence support for Vanunu in prison.

In calling for the release of Vanunu and acknowledgement of Israel's nuclear arsenal, the U.S. Campaign also focuses critical attention on U.S. nuclear weapons policies. One problem is the double-standard which undermines the government's official stance against nuclear weapons proliferation. While opposing the nuclear aspirations of Third World countries like Iraq and North Korea, successive Presidents have turned a blind eye to the major transgressions of Israel, our close Middle East ally. The other problem is our own government's continued reliance on nuclear weapons as a way of projecting U.S. power and influence around the world. The campaign's ultimate goal, inspired by Mordechai Vanunu's example, is a nuclear-free world.