Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu is arrested again

By Liel Kyzer, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service

A Jerusalem court on Tuesday released nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu to house arrest, after he was detained for meeting with a Norwegian citizen in direct violation of his parole orders.

Vanunu was released after claiming during a court hearing that the relationship between him and the Norwegian woman he met with is of a romantic nature, Channel 10 news reported.

"He is not accused of divulging any information," said Vanunu's lawyer Avigdor Feldman, according to Channel 10. "She is not interested in nuclear matters. She is interested in Mordechai Vanunu, who seems to be interested in her." 

Jerusalem police arrested Vanunu on Monday for violating his parole. Vanunu was released from prison in 2004 after serving an 18-year sentence for revealing details of Israel's nuclear weapons program. Vanunu also addressed U.S. President Barack Obama during the hearing, imploring him for help. Vanunu stated:

"President Obama was a nuclear weapons-free world, and he must work for my freedom. All I want is to be free. I don't have freedom of speech and freedom of movement." 

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Vanunu was detained on suspicion he met with several foreigners, in violation of the conditions of his 2004 release from prison. Vanunu was a former low-level technician at an Israeli nuclear plant who leaked details and pictures of the operation to the Sunday Times of London in 1986.

From the material, experts concluded that Israel had the world's sixth-largest nuclear arsenal. Vanunu was later kidnapped by Israeli intelligence agents in Rome and brought back to Israel to stand trial.

Four months ago, the High Court decided that the order prohibiting Vanunu from leaving the country, speaking with foreigners or approaching foreign embassies would remain in force for another six months.

The court told Vanunu that after the six months were up, he could petition the court again to annul the order. Before the hearing, he said:

"I want and need freedom and only freedom. Twenty-five years is enough. This is not my government. I want to see the world, to be beyond the Mossad and the Shin Bet." 

Vanunu distributed to the press a letter he wrote earlier this year to the Nobel Prize committee, in which he declined to be on the list of candidates for the prize because President Shimon Peres, who he said was "behind the Israeli atomic policy," was a Nobel laureate.

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