Israel court upholds ban on U.K. reporter
By Steve Weizman
Associated Press Writer
July 6, 2004
JERUSALEM -- A local court on Tuesday upheld an order barring British journalist
Peter Hounam from Israel because of his part in a television interview with
nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu after he was released from prison.
Vanunu, who was freed in April, served an 18-year sentence for espionage and
treason for divulging information about Israel's Dimona nuclear plant where
he worked as a technician. The details led experts to conclude that Israel
massive nuclear arms cache.
As a condition of his release, Vanunu was barred from speaking to foreign
In an attempt to circumvent those restrictions the interview, broadcast by
the British Broadcasting Corp. in May, was conducted by an Israeli journalist
for Hounam, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Hounam was arrested May 27 by Israel's Shin Bet security service on suspicion
of espionage and spent a night in jail before being sent home. The Interior
Ministry has barred him indefinitely.
In 1986, Vanunu gave Hounam photographs of the Dimona reactor that were published
in The Sunday Times of London. Based on the pictures, experts said Israel had
the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.
The appeal against the Israeli banning order, filed by Hounam and the Sunday
Times, argued that Hounam did not breach the conditions imposed upon Vanunu
and he was not engaged in gathering material that would endanger Israel's security.
The court upheld the Interior Ministry's contention that Hounam could be a
security risk if allowed back into the country.
The decision not to allow the petitioner to enter Israel is not unreasonable," the
ruling said. "There are no grounds for the court to intervene."
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