Vanunu pleads with High Court to allow him to leave Israel

Ex-technician at Dimona nuclear plant was imprisoned 18 years for divulging secrets related to Israel's purported nuclear weapons program.

Israel Israel News Mordechai Vanunu (photo credit: Reuters)
Israel Israel News Mordechai Vanunu
(photo credit: Reuters)
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday heard a petition submitted by Mordechai Vanunu, the man who leaked information regarding Israel’s reported nuclear weapons program in 1986, to leave the country via the West Bank.
Vanunu’s lawyer, the charismatic and colorful Avigdor Feldman, thundered away at the state, saying, “This man is not allowed to leave a country that does not want him in it and in which he does not want to be.”
He added that Vanunu merely wanted to leave the country to marry his girlfriend and live out his life quietly. Vanunu was formerly 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 persons, 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.
But Feldman claimed that after 29 years, Vanunu’s secret information was so dated that it could no longer threaten the state.
Feldman also said that Vanunu could have revealed secrets in other ways remotely, withoutneeding 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.
Feldman’s 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.
The state, in contrast, 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.
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 denied.
A decision is not expected soon.