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Norwegian leader: Press Israel to let Vanunu move here

By Yossi Melman and Yuval Yoaz,
Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service
April 23 2004

The Norwegian opposition leader has asked his government to press Israel to remove the limitations on nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu and allow him to move to Norway as a political refugee, Israel Radio reported Friday.

Israel has prohibited Vanunu from leaving the country or possessing a passport for one year following his release from prison Wednesday. Among other restrictions, Vanunu must apply for permission to meet non-Israeli citizens for the next six months.

Norway's opposition leader cited humanitarian reasons for his request, the radio said.

Vanunu has said he wants Norway's help in leaving Israel.

"The first thing he said to me was that he strongly hoped that Norway could help him get out of Israel, and that maybe could be granted residency in Norway," Norwegian peace activist and lawyer Fredrik S. Heffermehl was quoted as saying in Norwegian media.

The Norwegian foreign ministry declined immediate comment on Vanunu's request, Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reported.

Vanunu pleads for new and quiet life
In his second day as a free man, Vanunu made a passionate plea to be allowed to live quietly and begin his life anew.

Vanunu spent Thursday at the hostel of St. George's Anglican Church in Jerusalem, where he went immediately following his release from prison on Wednesday.

"He is simply enjoying a free and quiet day, without parties and celebrations," said his brother Asher.

Also Thursday,, it became known that the office of field security at the Defense Ministry holds all the materials collected or written by Vanunu during his 18 years in prison. This includes copies of 2,453 letters sent by Vanunu, 70 notebooks, including diaries and a notebook from 1991 in which he describes his work place at the Dimona nuclear facility and the production process at the plant.

This particular notebook appears to be the reference made by the chief of security, who asserted that Vanunu continues to pose a threat to Israel's security "because of his phenomenal memory."

Vanunu said the things he knew about were dated.

Attorney Dan Yakir of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel asked the State Prosecutor's Office on Thursday to return the material written by Vanunu in prison, which was confiscated in the weeks prior to his release.

ACRI sources said the authorities had promised to return the documents, and argued that the material was needed in order for them to prepare their case on Vanunu to be brought to the High Court of Justice next week.

The human rights group intends to reverse in court the restrictions imposed on Vanunu by the state.

Yakir also asked that Vanunu be authorized to meet a number of foreign citizens, including the former partner of his brother Meir, and their children.

Criticism of the chief of field security at the Defense Ministry, Yehiel Horev, intensified Thursday and culminated in MK Yossi Sarid's call to dismiss the official, who has been at the same post for 18 years.

Horev is blamed for bringing undue international attention on the Vanunu case by imposing severe restrictions on his movement and actions after his release.


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