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No Swedish asylum for Israeli nuclear whistleblower Vanunu

STOCKHOLM (AFP) Oct 29, 2004
Mordechai Vanunu, who was freed in April after 18 years in an Israeli prison for revealing the country's nuclear program, will not receive asylum in Sweden, an immigration department official said on Friday.

" Mordechai Vanunu had applied for asylum in Sweden and I think in several other countries ... We have rejected his application," Mats Baurmann of the Swedish Migration Board told AFP.

The rejection, Baurmann explained, had to do with the fact that Vanunu is still living in Israel, meaning that he can not technically be considered a refugee.

" We haven't tried his case at all, because he is not considered a refugee. Had he been in Sweden, we would have been required by law to try his case, and even if he had been living in a third country we may have taken him in on a special refugee quota.

" But he's living in Israel, so he is not a refugee," he said.

Since his release, Vanunu, 50, has frequently said he wants to leave Israel where he is widely reviled as a traitor for not only for revealing the Jewish state's nuclear ambitions -- the country is widely suspected to have nuclear weapons -- but also for converting to Christianity.

" The only way to feel and enjoy freedom and start my new life as a free human being will be when I can leave Israel and live my life in the US, in Europe or in London," he said in a BBC interview earlier this week.

Vanunu was abducted by Israeli secret service agents in Italy, smuggled back to Israel and then jailed in 1986 after leaking top-secret details about the Dimona plant to the Sunday Times.

Since his release from prison on April 21, he has been subject to a series of sweeping restrictions in Israel, including a ban on travelling abroad as well as holding unauthorized meetings with foreigners.

© 2004 Agence France-Presse.


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