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'They didn't break me' - Vanunu

Arieh O'Sullivan
The Jerusalem Post
Feb. 26, 2004

Mordechai Vanunu, whose 18-year prison term for leaking Israel's nuclear secrets is to end on April 21, said he would continue his anti-nuclear protests after his release, but that he had no more secrets to tell.

"I won. I'll be free. The gates and the locks will be opened. They didn't succeed in breaking me or driving me mad after all these years of solitary confinement," Vanunu said in a statement released by his brother Meir.

Meir, and a third brother Asher, visited Vanunu in Shikma Prison in Ashkelon on Wednesday for their weekly 90-minute meeting. It came a day after Shin Bet agents met with a taciturn Vanunu, who reportedly told them: "I am against Israel. I am against your state."

"He was in high spirits because until then he had concerns that they would keep him in prison. But he understood from the meeting convened by the prime minister that he would be freed," Meir Vanunu told The Jerusalem Post.

"He suddenly started saying: '57 days! 57 days! I'll be out. My wars are over.'"

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided on Tuesday night, after meeting with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Justice Minister Yosef Lapid and top security and legal officials, that Vanunu would not be kept in administrative detention.

However, his passport will be taken from him and he will be barred from leaving the country and be under constant supervision to prevent him from leaking any more details of Israel's alleged nuclear weapons.

But Vanunu, who converted to Christianity and changed his name to John Crossman, said all his secrets have already been published.

"What they say, that I have additional secrets, it's a lie, an excuse and a cover-up, and they know that very well," Meir quoted him as saying. "All that I know was published.

"I have no interest in fighting the state. I want to live a normal life, a simple life, as a free man outside of Israel."

Meir said Vanunu told him he wants to move to the United States and live with his adopted parents with the hopes of gaining citizenship.

Vanunu told his brother that he is still committed to the anti-nuclear cause and is determined to oppose Israel's alleged nuclear program.

"All I can do now is repeat what has already been published," Vanunu said. "I was told at a parole hearing that according to the security services, repeating what has already been published is not committing an offense. I have the right, like anyone else, to oppose nuclear weapons."

Meir said his brother is aware of the restrictions that are to be placed on him, and instructed the family to obtain the services of an attorney to fight them. Vanunu has not had any legal representation for eight months.

The brothers' meeting was held in a private room in the prison. No notes were allowed to be taken and the brothers were warned not to speak of certain topics.

They were not allowed to even bring their wallets into the room, where a security official was monitoring their conversation, Meir said. Only after the meeting did he write down his brother's statement from memory.

Vanunu is only allowed to meet with first-degree relatives.

Jerusalem District Court sentenced Vanunu to prison after he sold photos of parts of nuclear bombs made inside the Dimona reactor, where he had worked as a technician, to London's Sunday Times.

Since his arrest, Vanunu has become a lightning rod for criticism of Israel's nuclear program and has been nominated repeatedly for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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