Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August 2009, page 64
Update on Whistleblower Vanunu
MORDECAI VANUNU, who spent 18 years in an Israeli prison for providing evidence in 1986 of Israel’s nuclear arsenal, has coffee at the American Colony Hotel’s garden restaurant in occupied East Jerusalem most every day between 3 and 5 in the afternoon. In November 2006 the court established that Vanunu is permitted by Israeli Security to speak with foreigners on any topic except nuclear weapons. Vanunu gave an update on the appeal of his Freedom of Speech case on June 14, 2009.
When the whistleblower was released from prison on April 21, 2004, the Israeli military authorities imposed severe restrictions on his freedom. He continues to be banned from leaving the country and has been living in a dilapidated hotel for the last three years that provides nothing more than a roof, “a bed, a shower and a toaster.”
Vanunu was sentenced to six months in jail in 2007 for speaking to foreign media and for attempting to travel to Bethlehem to attend Christmas Eve mass in 2004.
“They renewed the restrictions to not speak to foreigners until November, Vanunu said. “I meet foreigners every day. I am talking with people every day. [My appeal against three months in jail] was scheduled for January, then May 6 and June 18. 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.
“I think the court will realize even if they send me back [to prison] for three months—what will they do after that?
“It is all about freedom of speech,” Vanunu said, “and they cannot keep me here [in Jerusalem] forever...They want revenge because I survived the system...The isolation in prison made me feel like I was losing my mind. I felt like I was dying.”
He also had some advice for U.S. President Barack Obama, who “needs to wake up and talk and walk. But America has lost eight years. America needs to free itself from the Israeli state. Five million Jews should not dictate to America what they shall do...The USA needs to wake up from 9/11. That was when America lost her way.”
—Eileen Fleming ❑