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Israel Court Upholds Vanunu Restrictions

By LAURIE COPANS, Associated Press Writer
Jul 26 2004


JERUSALEM - Israel's Supreme Court upheld on Monday security restrictions placed on nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, limiting his movements and the things he is allowed to say.

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu is surrounded by media as he waits for a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in this July 11, 2004 file photo. Israel's Supreme Court upheld on Monday July 26, 2004 security restrictions placed on Vanunu, limiting his movements and the things he is allowed to say. Vanunu's movements around seaports and airports have also been restricted. The Supreme Court ruled the restrictions were necessary because Vanunu could reveal more state secrets.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

However, Vanunu appeared to immediately violate restrictions that forbid him from initiating contact with foreign media, speaking to a swarm of journalists from Israel and abroad after the ruling was announced.
It wasn't clear if officials considered the impromptu news conference a violation. However, a lawyer for the state prosecutor's office, Shai Nitzan, said the state had begun a criminal investigation against Vanunu for previous interviews.

" We are saying always that Israel is not a real democracy, and today we are seeing it inside the Supreme Court," Vanunu told reporters. "We will find a way to continue to survive and demand the rights to live as best we can."

Vanunu completed an 18-year prison term in April, but Israel's security establishment decided the man who revealed Israel's nuclear secrets would not be allowed to leave the country or speak to the foreign media, saying he still has state secrets to reveal.

Vanunu's movements around seaports and airports have also been restricted.

The Supreme Court ruled the restrictions were necessary because Vanunu could reveal more state secrets.

Vanunu said he wants to live abroad and insists he has no more state secrets to reveal.

" My country is not Israel. My country is outside of Israel. Israel didn't respect me for 18 years. For 18 years, Israel condemned me as a traitor, as a spy. I don't like Israel, I don't want to live in Israel. I want to be free and to leave Israel," Vanunu said.

Many Israelis despise the Moroccan-born Israeli for a 1986 interview with London's Sunday Times that included pictures and details of Israel's nuclear reactor in the desert town of Dimona. Vanunu had worked there as a technician.

Israel has a policy of "ambiguity" regarding its nuclear arsenal, refusing to confirm or deny its capabilities.

But evidence Israel has nuclear arms is overwhelming, much of it based on the pictures and information leaked by Vanunu. Experts say Israel may have as many as 300 warheads as well as the capability of building more quickly.

Vanunu said he is considering further legal action. He could request the three-judge Supreme Court panel be expanded to hear the case again, even though such appeals are often rejected.

He said he would continue to live in St. George's Cathedral, a church not far from Jerusalem's Old City, explaining that he feels more comfortable among Palestinians and foreigners.

Now a prominent figure in the international anti-nuclear weapons movement, Vanunu also criticized a recent visit to Israel by Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

" I am very disappointed by Mr. Baradei because I expected him to go and inspect the Dimona reactor," Vanunu said. "The job of Mr. Baradei is to go and see if what I said ... if it's true."


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