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Decision on Release Status In Progress
When Mordechai Vanunu walks free on April 21, will he face restrictions and conditions?

It's a decision now reportedly in the hands of Israel's Attorney General, Meni (Menachem) Mazuz.

Before he decides, Mazuz will first visit Vanunu in prison to explain how the government will define " freedom" for Vanunu following his release, and to listen to Vanunu's intentions.

Formal discussion began in February, with meetings among Knesset leaders, the Prime Minister's office, and representatives of the defense ministry and various security services. The Attorney General's office took part to review the legal basis for any proposed restrictions. On February 24, Shin Bet security officers interviewed Vanunu at Ashkelon Prison, in advance of a policy meeting called by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Reportedly, Defense Ministry security chief Yehiel Horev's desire to impose an immediate two month administrative detention on Vanunu was quickly rejected by other parties.

That evening, following the meeting, Sharon publicly declared that Vanunu would not be imprisoned past April 21, but that "appropriate measures" including "certain supervisory means" would be enforced "in order to prevent additional security violations."

Speaking through his brother Meir, who visited him the next day, Vanunu blasted the presumption that he might have more state secrets to reveal. " What they say, that I have additional secrets, it's a lie, an excuse and a cover-up, and they know that very well. 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."

To that end, Vanunu had submitted a passport application to prison authorities some time earlier in February. But the authorities passed it on to Horev's department, rather than to the Interior Ministry, the only agency authorized to issue passports.

One of the measures under consideration is to deny Vanunu a passport and not allow him to leave the country. Early in March, the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing on the proposed restrictions. Testimony from Attorney General Mazuz, and rare public testimony from Horev was countered by Mordechai's brother Meir and attorney Dan Yakir of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, who has spoken out on Vanunu's behalf as well.

The defensive tone of Horev's testimony reflected a history of " security blunders and their cover-ups" according to a richly detailed article by Yossi Melman in Haaretz on March 18.

Melman writes: " A good many experts, both in the Shin Bet and the IAEC (Israeli Atomic Energy Commission), take issue with Horev's unrelentingly rigorous approach. According to these experts, who are afraid to be identified by name, Horev, by imposing restrictions on Vanunu, will achieve the exact opposite of his intention, as international attention will then be focused on Vanunu and on Israel's nuclear secrets...."

Yet regardless of what the security establishment wants or the government imposes, Vanunu has written that he will not "concede or fold, regret or apologise, be deaf or shut up."


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