The Eoloffs Barely Manage a Visit

Nick and Mary Eoloff, adoptive parents of imprisoned nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, visited Vanunu at Ashkelon Prison, Israel, on January 15. The visit took place only after Vanunu's lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, petitioned the Court and supporters' intensive lobbying on behalf of the Eoloffs and Vanunu. For three weeks prison officials refused to approve or prohibit the visit, for which the Eoloffs came to Israel from Minnesota, U.S.A., and two days before they were scheduled to travel home, a prison official said that sources "which I am not allowed to name" had prohibited the visit, for reasons that also remained secret.

Mary and Nick Eoloff went to Ashkelon prison and pleaded with the staff to allow them to visit their son. While not allowing them into the prison, the staff accepted a package that the Eoloffs brought for Mordechai, containing reading materials and gifts. Simultaneously, a petition was submitted to the Court and supporters of Mordechai Vanunu pressed the authorities to allow him to meet with his adoptive parents. Hours after they were turned away at the prison gate, a prison official called the Eoloffs and told them to come back the next day, just 12 hours before their flight home.

After meeting with Mordechai for 1 1/2 hours, the Eoloffs reported that they had never before seen him in such high spirits. He smiled and joked with them, speaking about his future after his release from prison. Vanunu said, that he had decided to put his years of imprisonment behind him and to focus on his plans for a future of freedom. He stated that he was "hopeful" about his prospects for early release through his ongoing appeal (scheduled to resume on January 21), but that even if he had to serve the entire remainder of his sentence - until April 2004 - he was determined to stay optimistic and to think positively.

- Rayna Moss