Prof. Uzi Even Vetoed as Consultant on Vanunu Case
By Yossi Melman
Yehiel Horev, the Defense Ministry's director of security, has forbidden Professor Uzi Even to serve as an expert consultant to the legal proceedings against the state that Mordechai Vanunu is now preparing, arguing that Even, despite having formerly worked at the Dimona nuclear reactor, does not have the necessary security classification.
Moreover, Horev said, Even left the reactor in 1968, and is therefore ignorant of developments that took place there after that date.
Vanunu was released from prison last month after serving an 18-year jail sentence for revealing Israel's nuclear secrets to a British newspaper. However, since he is believed to still possess classified information, the security establishment has imposed various restrictions on him - for instance, he is not allowed to travel overseas. With the aid of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), he is therefore preparing a petition to the High Court of Justice against these restrictions.
As part of these preparations, Vanunu has asked Horev's department (known by its Hebrew acronym, Malmab), to return all the material confiscated from him in prison, including some 70 notebooks in which he recorded both his thoughts and notes and drawings relating to the Dimona reactor. ACRI argued that it needs this material to prepare the petition, but Horev and the state prosecution refused. Therefore, a compromise was reached under which two people would be allowed to examine the material: Dan Yakir, ACRI's legal adviser, and an expert agreed to by both Vanunu and the state.
Yakir thus proposed Even, a former Meretz MK and an outspoken critic of both Israel's nuclear policy and the restrictions imposed on Vanunu. However, Horev rejected the proposal.
"Since Vanunu's material relates to a period in which Dr. Even was not a party [to events at the reactor] and to a different line of work, other appropriate experts have been suggested," a Defense Ministry spokeswoman said.
Even responded that he was not surprised by Horev's decision. "Yehiel Horev wants his own associates to give an opinion, not independent experts," he said. "In 1982, my security clearance was taken away when it became known that I am homosexual. Afterward, I waged a public campaign that led to these regulations being changed, including in Malmab, and I have a letter from prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, from 1993, saying that I am fit for any job."
Preparation of the petition has also been delayed by the fact that Yakir himself was only allowed to start examining the material on Wednesday, even though three weeks have passed since Vanunu's release.