WHISTLEBLOWER GIVEN EARLY TRIAL DATE
' Prosecution Overeager to Silence Vanunu'
With highly unusual haste, Mordechai Vanunu was given official notice on March 28, that the first court date on charges of violating the restrictions that were imposed on him last year, will begin on April 6. Vanunu was informed of the indictment less than two weeks earlier, on March 17. Vanunu is charged with violating the restrictions by granting interviews to foreign media and "attempting to leave the country" (for his bid to attend Christmas Eve Mass in Bethlehem last December).
Mordechai Vanunu, who in 1986 blew the whistle on Israel's secret nuclear program, was released from prison in April 2004, after serving his full sentence of 18 years imprisonment. Immediately upon his release, Vanunu was placed under a series of restrictions, based on the British Mandate State of Emergency Regulations of 1945. Denounced by major human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the restrictions prohibit Vanunu from making any contact with foreign nationals, speaking to the media, leaving Israel, coming within 300 meters of a foreign embassy or international borders and even changing his place of residence without approval from Israeli security agencies.
Speed is not the only irregularity in the prosecution of Mordechai Vanunu. The State has included civil rights attorney Oded Feller, of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, in the list of witnesses for the prosecution. Feller was one of the ACRI lawyers who represented Vanunu in his 2004 appeal against the restrictions, which was ultimately turned down by the Supreme Court. ACRI protested the inclusion of Feller in the list of witnesses in a letter to State Attorney Eran Shendar.
The prosecution of Mordechai Vanunu for violating the restrictions has been condemned by organizations and prominent figures around the globe. Veteran Israeli security commentator Yossi Melman wrote in Ha'aretz newspaper:
"Yehiel Horev did it again. The man in charge of field security for the defense establishment proved once again that his impulses overcome all logic." (March 23)
The International Federation of Journalists, representing more than 500,000 journalists in 110 countries, issued a special statement on March 18, in which the organization accused Israel of "bullying and intimidation in its continuing campaign against Mordechai Vanunu".
"Israel is creating a new crime - of talking to journalists," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It is a shocking betrayal of democratic principles in what is a vindictive campaign of bullying and intimidation against a man who has served his time."
On March 25, Colin Fox, leader of the Scottish Socialist party, asked First Minister Jack McConnell, to act for enabling Vanunu to visit Scotland and take up his role as rector of Glasgow University. Vanunu was elected as rector by the students of Glasgow University in December 2004.
Mary and Nick Eoloff, Vanunu's American adoptive parents, stated: "We are aghast at the appalling accusations made against Mordechai. There are no crimes to be tried. Mordechai continues to act as a human person with all of the rights due the dignity of being a person. How shocking that Israel continues to call itself a democracy. Shame on Israel."
Rayna Moss, an Israeli with the International Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu, today expressed concern about the haste in which the Israeli prosecution is acting against the whistleblower. "In a country in which people often wait for many months for their day in court, the prosecution is being exceptionally quick in its campaign to silence Mordechai Vanunu. The overeagerness of the prosecution in this case indicates, that the judicial system is being prodded into action by a vindictive security establishment. This is a blatant attempt to avoid any public discussion of the use of the 1945 Emergency Regulations against Israeli citizens. Israel's attempt to criminalize Vanunu for speaking to the world media cannot conceal the real crime in this case: a rogue country that maintains a secret nuclear program hidden from its citizens and from the world. Prosecuting and persecuting Vanunu will not make Israel's WMDs disappear from the sight of the international community."
For further information: In Israel: Rayna Moss: Tel. +972-50-7368236, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the USA: Felice Cohen-Joppa, Tel/Fax +520-323-8697, email: email@example.com
In Britain: Ernest Rodker, Tel. +44-20-8672-9698, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Norway: Fredrik Heffermehl, Tel. +47-2244 8003 Fax: +47-2244 7616 email: email@example.com