International Federation of Journalists 18 March 2005
The International Federation of Journalists today accused Israel of bullying and intimidation in its continuing campaign against Mordechai Vanunu, the man who spent 18 years in jail for telling the world that Israel possesses nuclear weapons but who may be sent back to prison - for talking to reporters.
“Israel is creating a new crime - of talking to journalists,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It is a shocking betrayal of democratic principles in what is a vindictive campaign of bullying and intimidation against a man who has served his time.”
Vanunu was served with official notice yesterday that he is to be brought to trial for breaking draconian restrictions imposed on him by the authorities following his release from prison in April last year. He has been barred from any contact with foreign nationals, from speaking to the media, from changing his address without official permission, and from leaving the country.
There is no evidence in the charges that he has been charged with any security breaches or divulging secret information. “He is being persecuted simply for talking to journalists,” said White. “These restrictions are shameful when imposed in a democratic country and they create a dangerous atmosphere in which the personal safety of Vanunu can be compromised.”
The IFJ says that all charges against Vanunu should be withdrawn and that he should be allowed to get on with the rest of his life without further harassment. “This man has paid a heavy price for his original offence, which itself was punitive and unjustified. Israel has got to come to terms with the reality that its secret is out. The authorities need to get over it and allow Vanunu to go free.”
Vanunu is being charged under regulations enacted 60 years ago during the British Mandate State of Emergency and has been receiving sanctuary at St George’s Cathedral in East Jerusalem since his release.
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.