On February 19, 2008, Vanunu wrote: “The court hearing today Feb. 19, was again postponed, because of a small snow here. We are waiting for the next hearing date soon.”
On July 2, 2007, an Israeli court sentenced Vanunu, to six more months in jail for violating a ban imposed on him in 2004, forbidding him to speak to foreigners. Two days before President Bush landed in Tel Aviv and a day before Vanunu’s appeal was to begin, Israel sentenced him to community service instead.
On Feb. 5, 2008, Vanunu met with prison officials to arrange community service and learned that to his “surprise they say there is no community service in East Jerusalem. I told them the agreement for community service was on this condition that it will be only in the East Jerusalem. They say no one told them about this… I will do community service in the East Jerusalem or the appeal begins and may be the prison sentence.”
After an historic year and half long freedom of speech trial, Vanunu was convicted of 14 parole violations including contact with foreign journalists in 2004 and for attempting to attend Christmas Eve mass at the Church of the Nativity, five miles away in occupied Bethlehem.
Vanunu has lived on the east side of Jerusalem, the Palestinian side of town since his release from 18 years in Ashkelon Prison on April 21, 2004.
West Jerusalem, is 99% Jewish and has never been Vanunu’s community.
“I went three times to West Jerusalem by taxi because I had to go to the Supreme Court. All three times some right wing extremist Jews shouted and threatened me. My community is the Lutheran Church in the Old City, the Palestinians on the streets and internationals. I have met with hundreds, thousands- probably even five thousand people since 2004.”
Everyone who talks with Vanunu on the street, on the phone or by email understands that they are being monitored by cogs in the industrial security-surveillance complex.
On February 13, 2008, Washington Post Staff Writer Paul Kane wrote: “The Senate yesterday approved a sweeping measure that would expand the government’s clandestine surveillance powers, delivering a key victory to the White House by approving the telecom immunity provision… the Senate approved the reauthorization of a law that would give the government greater powers to eavesdrop in terrorism and intelligence cases without obtaining warrants from a secret court… The most important change approved by the Senate yesterday would make permanent a law approved last August that expanded the government’s authority to intercept — without a court order — the phone calls and e-mails of people in the United States communicating with others overseas.”
That news was ignored by ABC, CBS and NBC. The MSM has also failed to report that on January 28, 2006, Vanunu’s historic freedom of speech trial began and that on February 22, 2006 it was revealed that Israel had asked Microsoft to hand over all the details of Vanunu’s Hotmail account before a court order had been obtained.
Vanunu: “Microsoft obeyed the orders and gave them all the details… three months before I was arrested and my computers were confiscated…it is strange to ask Microsoft to give this information before obtaining the court order to listen to my private conversations. It means they wanted to go through my emails in secret, or maybe, with the help of the secret services, the Shaback, Mossad… Sfard [Vanunu’s attorney] proved that the police had misled the judges who gave the orders to arrest me: to search my room, to go through my email, to confiscate my computers and that they misled Microsoft to believe they are helping in a case of espionage. The State came to the court with two special secret Government orders; Hisaion [documents or information that are deemed confidential by the government and kept from the court, the defendant, and lawyers.] This allows the prosecution to keep documents related to my court hearing secret. One was from the Minister for Interior Security and one from the Minister of Defense.”
Vanunu’s secretly taped police interrogations, his 2004 Christmas Eve arrest for “attempting to leave the country” when he attempted to celebrate mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the confiscation of his private property by thirty IDF that stormed into his room at St. George’s Cathedral in 2004, according to Vanunu have all “been done… under the false and misleading statements to the courts of ‘suspicion of espionage’, and yet they are not charging me with spy crimes… and the fact is that I have not committed any crimes.”
“But the real problem that Vanunu represents… at a critically important moment in the history of the Middle East that Israel is a nuclear power and that its warheads stand ready to be fired from the Negev desert. [Vanunu] will also remind the world that the Americans, despite battering their way into Iraq to destroy Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, continue to give their political, moral and economic support to a country that has secretly amassed a treasure trove of weapons of mass destruction.
“How can President Bush remain silent on Israel’s nuclear power when he has not only illegally invaded an Arab state for allegedly harbouring nuclear weapons and condemned Iran for the same ambitions, but also praised –along with Tony Blair’s government–Colonel Gaddafi of Libya for abandoning his nuclear pretensions? If the Arab states are being “defanged” –always supposing they had any real fangs in the first place–why should Israel not be “de-nuclearised”? Why can’t the United States apply the same standards to Israel as it does to the Arabs? Or why, for that matter, can’t Israel apply the same standards to itself that it demands of its Arab enemies?”
The legend of Vanunu continues to grow
An intrepid twenty-one year old German was arrested on Christmas Eve 2007 just for having dinner with Vanunu.
Five days prior, Dana from the USA met Vanunu in the Old City and walked to the American Colony with him for lunch. Dana informed this civilian journalist via telephone, “At the table next to us was the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem and a lot of photos were being taken of him. I wasn’t concerned about myself, but I was afraid to meet Vanunu for his sake; that he would get arrested. I told him this and he just shrugged. I do believe he was arrested on Christmas Eve just because he is a Christian.”
Also unafraid of speaking with Vanunu are the “Ten to twenty foreigners [who speak with Vanunu] every day in the streets, in the restaurants, in churches; some times long meetings.” 1
This civilian journalist phoned Vanunu on February 12th to ask him what he thought about the two homicide bombers who blew up six miles from the underground Dimona nuclear plant on Feb. 5th. Reuters originally reported that a source said the “Army of Palestine” wing of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from Gaza carried out the attack in Dimona along with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Within hours it was then reported that it was two Hamas from Hebron. Israeli authorities denied the nuclear plant was the target and not one journalist questioned it.
Vanunu said, “We don’t know if they were Hamas or Fatah, but they got as far as they could get to the Dimona. The Dimona is very heavily guarded, and only another state could blow it up, not terrorists.”
Vanunu hasn’t set foot in the Dimona in twenty-two years, [International Inspectors never have] yet Israel continues to insist they cannot let him speak with foreigners or leave Israel, because Israeli authorities claim he still has a secret he has not yet told.
Vanunu has repeatedly responded, “All the secrets I had were published in 1989 in an important book, by Frank Barnaby: The Invisible Bomb: Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East.”
Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Israel ratified and is obliged to uphold, stipulates: “everyone [has] the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence” and that “everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own”.
Israel is bound by international law not to impose arbitrary restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu, including on his right to travel within the country or abroad, his right to peaceful association with others and his right to express his opinions.2
“For 18 years in prison I felt like a man at a train station, waiting for my train. I lived in a six by nine foot space without a window for 18 years. Every day I would get up, get dressed, put on my shoes, look at the same four walls and wait for that train that never came… Now I live in a nine by nine space with four walls, I have a window to the Mount of Olives and the street. But, I live like a tourist without even a TV in a cheap hotel and all I want to do is leave Jerusalem. I am no longer waiting for a train. Now I am at the airport terminal waiting for my plane.”
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.3
- Excerpted from an email from Vanunu. [↩]
- Amnesty International Press Release of April 19, 2004 and July 2, 2007. [↩]
- Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights [↩]