Vanunu Denied Parole by Court -
Must Serve Entire Sentence

Mordechai Vanunu, who in 1986 blew the whistle on Israel's secret nuclear weapons arsenal, was denied early release by the District Court of Beersheba today, February 16. The meaning of this ruling is, that Vanunu, who spent 11 1/2 years of his 18 year sentence in solitary confinement, will have to complete his entire term in prison. Vanunu is scheduled to be released in April, 2004.

While the Court made its ruling public today, the reasons behind the ruling will remain secret, until the security establishment censors the text and decides what parts, if any, will be made public.

There is little doubt among Vanunu's supporters in Israel, that the Court's ruling, while partially an act of vindictiveness on the part of the security establishment, is mostly motivated by the fear of the Israeli government, that Vanunu's release at this time would inevitably lead to increased international attention to Israel's weapons of mass destruction. Like other states that are termed "rogue nations," Israel maintains facilities for manufacturing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, as well as a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons, yet it has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to allow any independent inspection of its facilities.

Despite the Court's disappointing ruling, Vanunu's message was present at yesterday's historic 3,000-strong antiwar demonstration in Tel-Aviv; several demonstrators held placards reading: Blix, come to Israel; U.N.: Inspect Dimona; Disarm Israel; and We also have Weapons of Mass Destruction.

-Rayna Moss