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AG Mazuz: Vanunu significant danger to state security

By Gideon Alon, Ha'aretz Correspondent, and Ha'aretz Service
March 9, 2004

Attorney General Mordechai Mazuz said Tuesday that the release of nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu from prison "will create a significant danger to state security."
Mazuz presented his position on the matter in a meeting of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee convened to discuss the possible restrictions that might be imposed on Vanunu upon his release on April 21 after 18 years in prison. Mazuz said he was basing his assessment on information provided to him by figures in the defense establishment.

Mazuz noted that in a meeting on the Vanunu release held February 24 in the Prime Minister's Office, he voiced his opposition to placing Vanunu in administrative detention following his release from jail.

Certain restrictions should be placed on Vanunu in order to prevent him from carrying out his stated intention of revealing additional information on Israel's nuclear secrets, Mazuz said.

The attorney general refused to detail what restrictions might be placed on Vanunu following his release, but noted concerns are based on letters Vanunu sent from jail over the past 18 years stating his specific intention to release more nuclear secrets still in his possession.

Possible restrictions that have already been discussed include withholding Vanunu's passport, which would prevent him from travelling overseas.

Yehiel Horev, head of the Defense Ministry's security unit, said that Vanunu worked for 10 months in extremely sensitive positions in the Dimona nuclear facility. He added that in all Vanunu's letters written from jail he expressed his intention to leave Israel upon his release and publicize all the information he has in an effort to harm Israel. Horev said Vanunu's stated intentions were confirmed by a psychiatrist who met with him.

"All criticism is being directed at us, as if we were the nation's devil," Horev said in a rare public statement.

Officials in the Defense Ministry and the state prosecutor's office and Meir Vanunu, the brother of Mordechai, also participated in the Knesset committee session.

Committee chairman MK Michael Eitan (Likud) said he decided to hold the session because he was convinced Israel was able to allow a public discussion on the proper balance between security needs and human and citizens' rights.

Eitan decided to forbid the media from recording or photographing the committee meeting in order to allow certain figures to participate who would not otherwise be able to appear. Horev, for example, said he would only appear before the committee if he was not taped or filmed.

MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), who also initiated the meeting, said she wanted to learn from defense establishment representatives and the state prosecutor what considerations would lead them to place restrictions on Vanunu.

Meir Vanunu said his brother was not permitted to speak with the media or state bodies during the 18 years he was imprisoned and that everything published on the affair came from the Defense Ministry.

"Why don't they let him speak? Have him speak behind closed doors to the Knesset's Constitution Committee," Meir Vanunu said. He added his brother has already told the press everything he knows and is not in possession of any additional information on Israel's nuclear secrets.

According to Meir Vanunu, the defense establishment opposes the release of his brother due to the damage he is liable to cause by describing how he was interrogated in jail and how he was treated.

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