The International Federation of Journalists has called for an end to official harassment of Mordechai Vanunu - the man who told the world that Israel possessed nuclear weapons - as Israeli judges moved to send him back to jail for speaking to journalists.
Vanunu will appear in court tomorrow, charged with violating restrictions that prevent him leaving the country and ban him from speaking to foreigners. If found guilty, he could be jailed for nine months on a total of 21 criminal counts.
“This man has served his time for revealing what everyone has known for many years,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Now he is being harassed simply for talking to journalists. He is being intimidated by absurd and unjust restrictions that have no place in a democracy. This case must be reviewed and the legal restrictions on him should be lifted.”
Vanunu has challenged limitations imposed upon him in April 2004 upon his release from jail, in which he served 18 years, most of it in isolation. He was prohibited from leaving Israel or speaking to non-Israeli citizens. Earlier this month his lawyers failed to get the restrictions lifted by the Supreme Court.
Since leaving jail, Vanunu has lived at the pilgrims’ hostel of the Anglican cathedral in Jerusalem. He says he has a right to speak out and he has no additional information that would compromise state security. He has given up to 50 unauthorised interviews to the press since 2004 and says everything he has said is already in the public arena.
The IFJ says that, as well as lifting restrictions on Vanunu, Israel should “face up to the truth about its place in the democratic world.” The protection of whistle-blowers like Vanunu is vital to free expression, says the IFJ, which is campaigning for greater protection for journalists’ sources of information.
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.