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Israeli's Vanunu ends his 18 years of mostly solitary confinement PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Monday, 19 April 2004 10:25

Mr. Vanunu, 50, became an international cause c?l?bre in 1986, when he was kidnapped by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and imprisoned for treason after telling the world about Israel's secret nuclear-weapons program. Israeli officials believe Mr. Vanunu is o­ne of the most dangerous men in the country, and have ordered him not to leave his town in Israel, to speak to foreigners, to use a cellphone or the Internet, or to come within 100 metres of any embassy or border.

Globe & Mail
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20040419/VANUNU19/TPInternational/Africa

Israeli who spilled nuclear secrets to be kept o­n tight leash after release
Even contact with parents is forbidden

By DOUG SAUNDERS
Monday, April 19, 2004 - Page A10

When Mordechai Vanunu ends his 18 years of mostly solitary confinement Wednesday morning, he will likely be greeted with complete silence from all four of his parents.

Mr. Vanunu, 50, became an international cause c?l?bre in 1986, when he was kidnapped by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and imprisoned for treason after telling the world about Israel's secret nuclear-weapons program. Israeli officials believe Mr. Vanunu is o­ne of the most dangerous men in the country, and have ordered him not to leave his town in Israel, to speak to foreigners, to use a cellphone or the Internet, or to come within 100 metres of any embassy or border.

Those restrictions, which are indefinite in duration, are being appealed in Israeli court this morning. But even if they are overturned, Mr. Vanunu will step out of prison into an awkward political environment and a truly bizarre family situation.

Standing outside the Jerusalem prison upon his release will be Nick and Mary Eoloff of St. Paul, Minn., who adopted him as their son in 1997. But the Eoloffs will have to remain silent and remote, because they are forbidden to contact him by any means.

Mr. Vanunu's biological parents will also be silent. Patriotic Israelis, they were against their son's decision to expose Israel's secret nuclear labs, and even more offended when he converted to Christianity.

The Eoloffs, lifelong anti-nuclear protesters who want to bring Mr. Vanunu to their home in Minnesota, visited him in prison yesterday and said he is angry and depressed by the situation.

"More than anything, I think he believes he has a right to the life of a normal citizen -- he wants just a quiet normal life, and he wants to live in the United States," Mrs. Eoloff said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem last night. "They took 18 years of his life, and I don't think they have the right to take any more."

That sympathy is not widely shared in Israel. "The majority of people here still see him as a traitor," Mrs. Eoloff said. " . . . His life is in certain danger here."

Yesterday, when they announced the restrictions o­n Mr. Vanunu, Israeli officials said they were worried he will try to provide more secret information to the news media, or draw further attention to Israel's nuclear program, which the country does not officially admit to having.

"The main consideration should be his intent to go o­n causing damage to Israel," said Shabtai Shavit, a former Mossad chief who helped draft the unusual set of restrictions. "Who will guarantee that he will o­nly speak the truth? Who is to stop him imagining things?" Mr. Shavit told the Reuters news agency.

Mr. Vanunu's sudden re-emergence could prove awkward at a moment when Israel has just won full co-operation from the United States in its war against Palestinian militants and its ban o­n the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. The United States cannot legally provide aid to countries that produce weapons of mass destruction; Israel has managed to get around this restriction using a don't-ask-don't-tell policy that became much more difficult after Mr. Vanunu released photos of desert atomic-bomb labs to The Times of London.

Indeed, Mr. Vanunu, who worked from 1976 to 1985 at the Dimona nuclear-power facility while it was secretly producing more than 200 nuclear warheads, has pledged to continue speaking out against the weapons. His outspokenness led him to spend most of his sentence in solitary confinement, which ended in 1998. Due to be released a year ago, he spent another year in prison because he refused to agree not to talk about nuclear weapons.

"He's very willing to join the opposition to nuclear development o­nce he's living in the United States," Mrs. Eoloff said.

The Eoloffs adopted the dissident after spending years organizing petition campaigns to have him released. They believed adoption would give him U.S. citizenship, but learned a year later that the United States does not grant citizenship to adopted children over age 16. Mrs. Eoloff said yesterday she hopes Mr. Vanunu will be granted political asylum in the United States.

Mr. Vanunu's brother Meir said the dissident remains angry and depressed, but that he does not have any information beyond what he revealed to The Times.

"Mordechai is not crazy, but he is very angry and sometimes suffers from notions that there is a vast Israeli conspiracy against him, all around," his brother said o­n Friday.

Some senior Israelis expressed fear that restrictions o­n Mr. Vanunu might backfire. "I think it is a mistake to gag him," said David Kimche, a former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "It o­nly bolsters Vanunu's supposed credibility and, in turn, pretty much anything he may choose to concoct about Israel."

Last Updated on Monday, 19 April 2004 10:25
 

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