Mordechai Vanunu’s Ongoing Ordeal

Vanunu’s most recent tribulations began on January 25, 2006, when he was convicted by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court of 15 violations of a military order that prohibited him from talking to non-Israelis and for attempting to leave the state [he has no passport] by taking a cab from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to attend Christmas Eve mass at the Church of the Nativity in 2004-his first since he was released from 18 years-most all of it in solitary-from Ashkeleon prison.

The original indictment included 22 different violations, Vanunu was charged with 19 and acquitted of four. On July 2, 2007, Israel sentenced Vanunu to six months in jail just for speaking to non-Israeli media — and not on the content — of what are hundreds of conversations that began the day Vanunu emerged from a tomb sized cell for providing the photographic proof in 1986 of Israel’s underground WMD facility. However, he was acquitted of speaking to foreign nationals on the Internet and via video and voice chats.

Two days before President Bush’s first trip to Israel, and a day before Vanunu’s appeal was to begin, Israel sentenced him to community service. But Israel does not recognize occupied east Jerusalem as part of the community although it is the only neighborhood where Vanunu has lived since April 21, 2004. On September 23, 2008, the Jerusalem District Court reduced his sentence to three months in jail, “In light of (Vanunu’s) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country’s security in jeopardy.”

On June 14, 2009 Mordechai Vanunu told this reporter, “They renewed the restrictions to not speak to foreigners until November. I meet foreigners every day. I am talking with people every day. But I am not writing or announcing the appeal until after it happens. It was scheduled for January, then May 6th and June 18th. Now I am waiting for a new court date. The Central Commander of the General Army testified in court that it is OK if I speak in public as long as I do not talk about nuclear weapons.”

Vanunu returned to court on July 6, 2009 and “his attorney Avigdor Feldman…and the state agreed that after six months, pending a review of his conduct, Vanunu will be able to ask for the restrictions to be lifted and be allowed to travel abroad.

Feldman said, “Vanunu is not going to change. He will still be the man who left the reactor and transferred sensitive material over to The Sunday Times. But it is inconceivable that a man be held in Israel for his entire life because of this. The world has anyway lost interest in the subject…You can say a lot of things about Vanunu, but you cannot say he is dishonest. Until now he wouldn’t commit to refrain from speaking of [Israel’s nuclear program], but now he is. He wants to live, to raise a home, a family and children.”

However, the “Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, did not agree with Feldman’s ‘lack of interest’ theory, saying that “the case is still generating great interest, like any other security-related case. The media’s attention he gets is proof of that.”

Vanunu told reporters, “All I’m interested in is freedom. Give me a passport and I can tour the world. I want to walk around the streets of New York.”

That evening I phoned Vanunu and as always he said he was, “OK…You have freedom of speech and freedom of movement. Do what you want. But I am not publishing anything…Everything is already on the Internet.”

I met Vanunu for the first time on June 21, 2005 and have seen him on all seven of my trips to Jerusalem, but not until June 14, 2009 did he fill me in on why he has not written and published his own story. Vanunu said that he and a writer had been openly meeting in the garden of the American Colony and working on his book soon after his release from Ashkelon, but a Palestinian spy turned them both in and the authorities threatened Vanunu with more jail time if he published anything without going through Israeli censors.

However, Vanunu did write that on February 22, 2006, in a Jerusalem court it was revealed that Israel had asked Microsoft to hand over all the details of his Hotmail account before a court order had even been obtained and they eluded that Vanunu was being investigated for espionage.

Vanunu wrote, “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.”

His attorney Michael Sfard repeatedly requested Police Representative Mr. Peterburg to specifically state what type of espionage activity Vanunu was accused of.

According to Vanunu, “The policeman did not have any answers and said that he brought all the evidence to the court. When Sfard asked him again about any material related to the espionage charge, Peterburg had no answers.

“Sfard 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, called Hisaion, which are 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 reported that his secretly taped police interrogations, his 2004 Christmas Eve arrest for “attempting to leave the country” while traveling the four miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the confiscation of his private property by thirty IDF that stormed into his room at St. George’s Cathedral had 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.”

On St. Patrick Day 2005, Vanunu spoke to the media immediately after he had been arrested for speaking with the media in 2004.

Vanunu said: “I have no more secrets to tell and have not set foot in Dimona for more than 18 years. I have been out of prison, although not free, for one year now. Despite the illegal restrictions on my speech, I have again and again spoken out against the use of nuclear weapons anywhere and by any nation. I have given away no sensitive secrets because I have none. I have not acted against the interests of Israel nor do I wish to. I have been investigated by the police again and again, and re-arrested. They have found nothing. I have done nothing but speak for peace and world safety from a nuclear disaster…I do not want to harm Israel, but rather to warn of an enormous danger. I want to work for world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons. I want the human race to survive.”

Eileen Fleming is the author of Keep Hope Alive and Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory and the producer of 30 Minutes With Vanunu. Email her at Read other articles by Eileen, or visit Eileen's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Yaakov Sullivan said on July 18th, 2009 at 7:52am #

    aakov Sullivan made one mistake by converting to Christianity. As a former Christian who is a proud Muslim now I see his jorney as an uncomplete one. If he could see all the Muhammed prophecies and understand Islam he would convert to be a Muslim in an instant. Inshallah he will see the light if Islam.Hamdulillah.

  2. eileen fleming said on July 18th, 2009 at 11:15am #

    Thanks for that YS,
    And Vanunu’s journey and ordeal are not over yet.

    When he emerged from a tomb sized cell on April 21, 2004, Vanunu said:

    “I am not harming Israel. I am not interested in Israel. I want to tell you something very important. I suffered here 18 years because I am a Christian, because I was baptised into Christianity. If I was a Jew I wouldn’t have all this suffering here in isolation for 18 years. Only because I was a Christian man.”

  3. bozh said on July 19th, 2009 at 7:25am #

    case of vanunu shows how bad can it get for any innocent person.
    yet, the three major gods are in eternal peace while their respective flocks are in eterne hatred, intolerance, and warfare.
    it’s odder than an udder.
    can the mad priests get even madder? Wldn’t be surprised if they became even clazier. tnx

  4. Shabnam said on July 19th, 2009 at 5:47pm #

    Mordechai Vanunu has proven himself to be a committed person to world peace but he has paid a high price for his commitment by revealing Israel’s nuclear weapon factory at dimona where cost him 17 years of his life in jail, 11 of which were in a minute solitary confinement cell and he still is harassed by authorities in occupied land where is erected on the stolen land of Palestinian with cooperation of the Western powers influenced by the wealth of Rothschild family, a Jewish aristocracy in Europe where caused another population to be dispossessed and destroyed.

    Mr. Vanunu has proven credible; therefore, he is viewed ‘dangerous’ by the war criminals in the occupied land since they don’t want another secret to come out. Vanunu has already said publicly that John Kennedy was gun down by Israel assassin, because John Kennedy pressuring Israel to open the WMD factory for inspections and let David Ben Gurian know that the United States is not interested Israel to have atomic bomb. Vanunu’s conduct since 1986 has shown that he does not say anything in public unless is credible. Therefore, his claim of Israel’s role in Kennedy assassination must be taken seriously.

    Apparently, majority of the American political actors feel that they have duty to use American people $$$$$$$ to make Israel expansion real and fast by supporting Jewish settlements and destructive wars forced upon the Palestinians. I don’t think Vanunu is known widely among American people. We never saw his case be publicized like for example, Iranian dissidents, on national TV and Zionist media. I bet dissidents such as Abdulkarim Soroush, who have received many awards from Human Right Watch (HRW) and other organizations, funded by George Soros and US government, are better known in the United States since he is coming from a country where is made an eternal ‘enemy’ by the zionist media and the zionist lobby. Soroush is an Iranian made ‘philosopher’ who advocates George Soros ‘Open Society’ in Iran. His student Akbar Ganji is also interested in Western philosophy. His manifesto is laced with references to Karl Popper, the thinker who coined the concept of the ‘open society.’
    These dissidents are not only showered with many ‘Awards’ and jobs but also are taken, if they want, to see war criminals in different Western capitals to form public opinion against a country made enemy for ‘regime change.’ Both Akbar Ganji, few years in prison and Soroush, no time in prison, were given passports to leave the country with no problem but Israel not only treats Palestinians with technique worse than fascists but also an Israeli committed to peace, like Mordechai Vanunu, with the same treatment yet the zionist puppet in Washington repeatedly referring to Israel as a ‘democratic state’ and sending billion of dollar $$$$$$$$$ each year to reward Israel to continue its brutal treatment of dissidents like Mr. Vanunu.

    Ironically, Mr. Noam Chomsky and his friends around him have abandoned Vanunu and have not produced PETITION after PETITION in support of Vanunu’s right to have a passport and leave the country or freely talk to foreign journalists as Chomsky and his friends have done for the Iranian dissidents including Akbar Ganji, Ramin Jahanbeglou, Shireen Ebadi, Haleh Esfandiari, where some of them are working closely with intelligent agencies and phony ‘Human Rights’ organizations connected to NED supported by CIA. Mr. Chomsky and CPD, Joanne Landy have produced hundreds of PETITIONs in support of Ramin Jahanbeglou, a NED recipient, Haleh Esfandiari, close to US government and Washington Institute for the Near East Policy (WINEP) an Israeli think tank, Shireen Ebadi, supported by Western governments and was awarded Noble peace prize, where no one knows the nature of her ‘peace making’ activities up to this day. In fact NOBEL PEACE PRIZE SHOULD HAVE BEEN AWARDED TO MR. Mordechai Vanunu who has spent 18 years of his best part of life in jail to alarm the world about Zionist state worse than fascist equipped with Atom and Hydrogen bomb, the first in the Middle East, not to allow the Zionist state to get hold of WMD to be able to take the world hostage.
    Instead, Mr. Chomsky is very busy with Iranian dissidents making US and Israel’s propaganda more fruitful when he joins Mr. Ganji’s hunger strike on July 22 to 24 in front of the UN building in New York.
    We should send a clear message to support Mr. Vanunu’s right to travel and free speech to those stooges who have claimed we kill to protect ‘our values’ and to promote ‘democracy’ in far wary places. We should send a message to Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton who have preached to Iranians about ‘democratic rights’ but they support and protect, with American $$$$$$$$, a worse than fascist state and have abandoned the case of Mr. Vanunu to protect Israel undemocratic treatment of prisoners regardless of ethnic and religious divide when it comes to Israel’s expansion of influence in the region.


    Ms. Eileen Fleming, thank you very much to bring Mr. Vanunu’s story to this site reminding people of his noble vision and his humanity where is embedded in his words when he says:
    [I do not want to harm Israel, but rather to warn of an enormous danger. I want to work for world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons. I want the human race to survive.]
    I invite people to watch the following video on Vanunu and his life where gives good information on Vanunu and Israel as a fascist state.

  5. eileen fleming said on July 19th, 2009 at 6:01pm #

    Thank you very much for all the above.

    Within days of the announcement of a record 205 nominations for 2009’s Nobel Peace Prize, [one of several prizes endowed by Swedish industrialist and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel] perpetual nominee Vanunu -he has been nominated annually since 1986- declined the honor in a letter to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Oslo:

    “I am asking the committee to remove my name from the nominations…I cannot be part of a list of laureates that includes Simon Peres…Peres established and developed the atomic weapon program in Dimona in Israel…Peres was the man who ordered [my] kidnapping…he continues to oppose my freedom and release…WHAT I WANT IS FREEDOM AND ONLY FREEDOM….FREEDOM AND ONLY FREEDOM I NEED NOW.”

    Please send an email to Israeli Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish


    Subject: FREE VANUNU NOW!!!

    Dear Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish,

    On July 6, 2009, in regards to Mordechai Vanunu, you stated that his “case is still generating great interest, like any other security-related case. The media’s attention he gets is proof of that.”

    The “great interest” is for Vanunu’s RIGHT to free speech and RIGHT to leave the state.

    “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”-Article 13:2 UN UDHR

    “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.” -Article 19. UN UDHR


    Your name and state/country

    On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations.” – May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel

  6. Shabnam said on July 19th, 2009 at 7:39pm #

    Thank you eileen for your information. I sent the letter to the given
    e-mail address demanding FREE VANUNU NOW.
    Everyone should do it.

  7. eileen fleming said on July 19th, 2009 at 8:02pm #

    In Solidarity “We have it in our power to begin the world again”-Tom Paine

  8. mebosa ritchie said on July 21st, 2009 at 3:42pm #

    vanunu was a traitor and in general a scumbag
    he should have been shot or hanged as he would have been in all the other middle eastern countries.
    not quite sure why the israelis want to waste their hard earned money keeping him either in or out of prison
    send him off to go and be with his “friends”

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain said on July 21st, 2009 at 4:10pm #

    Gosh, our favourite golem is a little agitated. I must disagree with her observation that Vanunu should have been executed. After all he did the world a service, and Israel too. Use your frontal lobes, dear golem. Israel loves the world knowing just how powerful they really are. As other Israelis have noted, the nuclear arsenal also ensures European compliance, despite growing popular disgust at Israeli barbarity. Moreover Seymour Hersh exposed how Israel maintains a ‘Samson Option’ to provoke nuclear war between the USSR, now Russia, and the US, if Israel’s existence was threatened, and I believe that threat was made in 1973. You’re certainly correct about the vicious regimes of the Middle East, nearly all of which are US supported brutal despotisms, and like all US puppets throughout history, are evil through and through. I do not count the Holy State in this league of course because the master/servant relationship is there inverted, with the global hegemon the puppet of a client state, which it maintains with billions in tribute and unceasing bullying in international institutions, a situation, as far as I know, unparalleled in history.

  10. eileen fleming said on July 21st, 2009 at 4:41pm #

    On 24 April 2004, Uri Avnery wrote:

    “This week it became clear that the Americans are full partners in the creation of Israel’s “nuclear option”. How was this exposed? With the help of Mordecai Vanunu, of course. …The Security Establishment has not stopped harassing him even after he has sat in prison for 18 years, 11 of them in complete solitary confinement – a treatment he himself described on leaving the prison as “cruel and barbaric”. After he was “set free”, far-reaching restrictions were imposed on him (e.g. he is forbidden to leave the country, is restricted to one town, cannot go near any embassy or consulate, may not talk with foreign citizens). All this under the colonial British emergency regulations that were condemned at the time by the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine, as “worse then the Nazi laws”.

    “Everybody understands that he has no more secrets. What can a technician know after 18 years in jail, during which technology has advanced with giant steps?…it becomes clear what the security establishment is really afraid of. Vanunu is in a position to expose the close partnership with the United States in the development of Israel’s nuclear armaments.

    “This worries Washington so much, that the man responsible in the State Department for “arms control”, Under-Secretary John Bolton, has come to Israel in person for the occasion. Vanunu, it appears, can cause severe damage to the mighty super-power…By the way, this John Bolton is an avid supporter of the group of Zionists neo-cons who play a central role in the Bush theater. He opposes arms control for the United States and its satellites, and was installed in the State Department against the wishes of the Secretary of State himself.”