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Vanunu gets foreign experts to testify in his petition to the Court

By Yossi Melman and Yuval Yoaz
Ha'aretz
July 7, 2004

Restrictions imposed by the Defense Ministry have made it impossible for Mordechai Vanunu to hire Israeli experts to submit evidence for his petition to the High Court.

Vanunu has therefore sought testimony from overseas experts, said Dan Yakir, who is legal counsel for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

The purpose of the expert testimony is to prove that Vanunu disclosed everything he knew about Israel's nuclear program more than 18 years ago, and no longer poses a security threat to the country.

One is a physicist, Dr. Frank Barnaby, who was a member of the original Sunday Times team that interviewed Vanunu prior to the original disclosure of information in the mid-1980s.

In his affidavit, Barnaby said he interviewed Vanunu at length, and the former nuclear technician at the Dimona plant told him everything he knew about the reactor. Barnaby concluded at the time that Vanunu's knowledge was limited, and exhausted by the disclosures he gave to The Times.

"My impression is that I managed to extract from Vanunu maximum information - that is, he told everything he knew about pieces of a much larger puzzle," wrote Barnaby.

The second overseas expert is Joseph Rotblat, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. This affidavit brings up moral and ideological arguments, and stresses the need for whistle-blowing about the dangers posed by nuclear programs.

Originally, Vanunu sought testimony from Uzi Even, who worked at the Dimona reactor and served in the Knesset for the Meretz party. But the Defense Ministry's director of security, Yehiel Horev, objected that Even ended his work at Dimona in 1968, and so his knowledge of the plant is not pertinent.

On Sunday, a high-level High Court panel - Aharon Barak, Eliahu Mazza and Mishael Cheshin - will consider Vanunu's petition. Vanunu demands that security restrictions imposed on him since his release from an 18- year prison term be overturned. Israel's security establishment claims that Vanunu retains still-undisclosed classified information, and so the restrictions are needed to protect state security.


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