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Israel's Restrictions on Vanunu Criticized.

By VOA News &

Amnesty International has criticized the Israeli government for its plans to impose tight restrictions on a nuclear traitor after his release from jail this week. In a statement Monday, the rights group said Mordechai Vanunu, 49, should be allowed to speak freely and travel where he wishes, including outside the country. Amnesty said Israel's restrictions on the former nuclear technician were a violation of his human rights.

Sunday, lawyers for Vanunu appealed plans to ban him from speaking to foreigners and leaving Israel. He has said he wants to live with his adopted parents in the United States after leaving prison Wednesday. Israeli officials said the limits are needed to prevent him from further revealing Israeli secrets.

In a recent taped interview, Vanunu told Israeli officials he has no more secrets to tell, after spending 18 years in prison. In 1985, Vanunu gave a British newspaper photos and classified information on a nuclear reactor in the southern Israeli town of Dimona. Shortly before publication of the secrets, Israeli agents in Rome kidnapped Vanunu and returned him to Israel, where he was convicted in a closed trial of espionage and treason.

"I'm a hero... There's no need for a Jewish state - Jews can live anywhere; a Palestinian state is sufficient... The nuclear reactor in Dimona should be destroyed just like the reactor in Iraq... Judaism and Islam are retarded religions..." So said Vanunu in an "interview" with Defense Ministry officials taped two months ago in his prison cell.

Vanunu worked in the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev for several years, and then traveled around the world with sensitive photographs and information from the center in his possession. After converting to Christianity in Australia, he made the information known to the London Sunday Times, which published his story and photos on Oct. 5, 1986, turning the world's attention to Israel's nuclear capacities.

Despite his history, Vanunu does not see himself as a traitor: "Yes, it's true that I signed a commitment to secrecy, but all I wanted was to inform the world of information that Israel wished to hide... It's your own fault, and of your psychologists, that you didn't detect the potential in me..."

Vanunu's restrictions ban him from meeting foreign nationals, leaving the area in which he has chosen to reside, keeping at least 100 meters away from foreign embassies and an embargo on discussing his former work at the nuclear plant or the circumstances surrounding his kidnap from Rome and his subsequent trial in Israel.

His brother Asher told Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) that Mordehai has never expressed regret for any of his actions and as such, did not receive a reduction in his sentence. Asher stated that Mordehai would undoubtedly wage a legal battle against restrictions imposed upon him, adding that having served the last day of an 18-year term should permit him to leave the confines of prison life a totally free man, without any restrictions.

Security officials feel the classified information held by Vanunu pose a danger to state security, explaining the need for the restrictions. Asher also accused the media of "intentionally corrupting" the public against his brother, by publicizing one-sided stories in the case, adding the entire family stands firmly behind him.
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Publication:Israel Faxx
Date:Apr 20, 2004
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