Harsh Restrictions to be Imposed on Vanunu After His Release Next Week
By Tsadok Yechezkeli and Anat Tal-Shir
The prisoner told his brother yesterday, that he won't be allowed to meet foreign nationals, go near air or sea ports and foreign embassies, possess a cellular phone or surf the internet. His adoptive parents: This is an absurd decision. Vanunu will appeal to the High Court of Justice against the restrictions immediately after his release.
Vanunu was referring to the document that he had received shortly earlier from security agents, which contained a full description of the restrictions that will be imposed on him during the first months of his life as a "free" person, mainly, a prohibition on leaving the country and an absolute prohibition on meeting with foreign nationals.
Vanunu told his brother yesterday, that he will be prohibited from leaving the country for a period of 12 months (after which the prohibition will be reconsidered), from meeting with foreign nationals and media persons from abroad. In addition, he will be prohibited from going near air and sea ports and foreign embassies, from possessing a cellular phone and from surfing the internet. Vanunu will even have to inform the police 24 hours in advance if he decides to go from one city to another.
The sense of shock that Vanunu gave out yesterday also reflected the harsh atmosphere among his relatives and his many supporters, some of whom have already arrived in Israel to welcome him at the moment of his release after 18 years, of which he spent 11 years in solitary confinement. The list of restrictions - and mainly the absolute prohibition on meeting with foreign nationals - was received with amazement and rage, since it effectively erases from Vanunu's life all contact with his many supporters around the world, some of whom are the people closest to him.
"This is a destructive decision for Mordechai," Vanunu's adoptive mother, Mary Eoloff, said yesterday with undisguised anger. She and her husband Nicholas arrived from the U.S. yesterday.
The couple, who adopted Vanunu several years ago, dreamed of leaving the country together with him and thereby realizing his dream of emigrating to the U.S. and opening a new chapter in his life. Yesterday they found it hard to digest the news, that Vanunu would not be able to leave the country and would even be forced to accept life under harsh restrictions.
"The terrible thing is, that the State is denying basic human rights to a person who has already completed his sentence," Mary Eoloff stated angrily in an interview with Yediot Ahronot. "They are assuming in advance, that he will use his freedom of speech to speak out against Israel. He has the right of expression just like any citizen, and that cannot be taken away from him."
Eoloff, who lives with her husband in Minnesota, called the prohibition on meeting with foreign nationals that was imposed on Vanunu "absurd". "We are his legal parents and we intend to see him. Tomorrow (Thursday) we are going to meet him in prison. So is it conceivable, that we will be forbidden to be with him when he is freed? It is possible, that we are not included in that prohibition, but we don't know anything any more."
The prohibition on meeting with foreign nationals has put pressure on Vanunu's many supporters. A delegation of about 80 of his supporters, including British Members of Parliament, Nobel Peace Price Laureates and cinema stars, will be landing in Israel over the next few days. Many of them have kept in touch with Vanunu by means of letters. Now they fear, that if they meet with him, they will cause him to violate the restrictions, thereby giving the security forces a pretext to re-arrest him.
"This is a terrible scandal," said Peter Hounam, the Sunday Times reporter who exposed the Vanunu affair and who arrived in Israel to meet him after 18 years. "We don't want to cause him any problems. If I reach the conclusion that I am putting him at risk - I'll give up on the meeting. But this is an outrage. Imagine, I won't even be able to shake the man's hand."
Vanunu has been given the right to appeal against the restrictions by next Sunday, and he intends to do so. He has empowered the Association for Civil Rights in Israel to petition the High Court of Justice against the restrictions on his behalf, and the petition will be made to the Court immediately after his release next week.