Parole Hearing for Vanunu Held January 21

Mordechai Vanunu appeared before the Parole Committee at Beersheba District Court on January 21, 2003. This hearing was in the framework of Vanunu's appeal against the previous decision of the committee, to deny him early release for good behavior. The hearing was held in camera, with only Vanunu, his lawyer, the panel and representatives of security agencies present.

In the present hearing, Vanunu's attorney, Avigdor Feldman, cross-examined a representative of the Shin-Bet, whose testimony was initially deemed too secret for the lawyer to examine. From her statements and those of other representatives of the security establishment it appears, that despite previous hints that were made to Vanunu, the security establishment still opposes his release.

Adv. Feldman spoke about Vanunu's 11 1/2 years in solitary confinement, as a major reason to grant Vanunu his freedom now. Vanunu also spoke on his own behalf.

After hearing these final testimonies, the Parole Committee concluded the hearing and stated that it would announce its decision on February 16, 2003, almost three weeks after Israel's general elections. Furthermore, the Committee stipulated that if its decision was positive, Vanunu would not be released immediately, but would remain in prison for one week thereafter, to enable the State to appeal the decision.

-Rayna Moss