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Israel bars journalist Peter Hounam reentering country

By Yossi Melman
Haaretz Correspondent
20/06/2004

Interior Minister Avraham Poraz banned BBC journalist Peter Hounam from entering Israel. Hounam was arrested for a period of 24 hours approximately one month ago after he held an interview with Mordechai Vanunu. Vanunu's had recently completed an 18-year prison term for exposing nuclear secrets, and was prohibited from contacting foreign journalists. Hounam had left Israel immediately upon his release.

Poraz on Sunday said he reached the decision at the advice of security officials, saying that the British journalist may attempt to expose sensitive information that could harm the security of the state.

Hounam in response said he would use legal means to fight the minister's decision. He told Haaretz that his attorneys had asked the Justice Ministry whether he would be allowed to enter the country. He said he was interested in covering Vanunu's petition to the High Court of Justice concerning limitations imposed on him by the defense establishment.

Hounam said he has yet to receive the announcement, saying it was a " stupid" decision. Nevertheless, he said he would not attempt to arrive in Israel should he not be granted permission to enter.

Sixty-year-old Hounam in 1986 was the Sunday Times journalist who exposed Vanunu's secrets about Israel's nuclear program. He has been in touch with Vanunu throughout his 18 year prison term.


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