The High Court of Justice on Sunday rejected the petition of Mordechai Vanunu,
the man who leaked information regarding Israel’s reported nuclear weapons
program in 1986, to leave the country via the West Bank.
The court said
that while it agreed with Vanunu that his situation should be examined
periodically and with rigor to ensure that restrictions on him were not being
maintained unnecessarily, it believed that the state had met its standard of
proof for maintaining the restrictions at this time.
hearing, Vanunu’s lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, said: “This man is not allowed to
leave a country that does not want him in it and in which he does not want to
He added that Vanunu merely wanted to leave the country to marry his
girlfriend and live out his life quietly.
Vanunu was a technician at the
Dimona nuclear plant who was imprisoned for 18 years for divulging secrets
related to Israel’s purported nuclear weapons program.
Since his release
from prison in 2004, Vanunu has had a range of highly unusual restrictions
placed on his movement and his right to interact with other people, particularly
foreigners and the press.
The High Court has numerous times approved
these restrictions, and Vanunu has numerous times violated them, sometimes being
temporarily penalized or reprimanded.
Feldman had claimed that after 29
years, Vanunu’s secret information was so dated that it could no longer threaten
Feldman also said that Vanunu could have revealed secrets in
other ways remotely, without needing to speak to someone in person, but had
chosen not to.
Regarding Vanunu’s violations in meeting with foreigners,
Feldman claimed that he had not told them anything or been accused of telling
them anything about Israel’s purported nuclear weapons program.
point was that Vanunu had never violated the substance of the restrictions
against him; the attorney also presented the meeting his client had with
foreigners as happenstance when he was out at a café.
He tried to portray
the restrictions as unnecessary and draconian. But the court ultimately accepted
the state’s arguments.
The state said that expert reports and secret
information, which it presented to the court in a closed-door portion of the
hearing, proved that Vanunu’s information was still relevant and its revelation
would endanger state security.
Another report indicated that Vanunu was
still highly motivated to divulge secrets if he left the country and was beyond
the state’s reach, said the state.
The court also said that a key aspect
of his ruling was that the restrictions were not punitive, but preventative, to
stop him from further compromising national security.
Moreover, the court
said that Vanunu might fare better if he meticulously observed the restrictions
for some time, especially since he is actually allowed to speak to foreigners
provided he gets approval from the state first (which it has given both times he
Vanunu’s request comes after various recent legal developments,
including a March 2011 law empowering the state to revoke certain convicts’
citizenship, and his desire to use the law as a way to get the state to revoke
his citizenship and expel him from the country after repeated past requests were
Though originally not expected to decide the issue for an
extended period, the court surprised observers issuing a decision within days of