Vanunu could end up back in jail

The Associated Press
Posted on Mon, Apr. 30, 2007

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu could end up back in jail after an Israeli court convicted him on Monday of violating an order forbidding him contact with foreigners.

Vanunu, a former technician at Israel's nuclear plant near the southern town of Dimona, spent 18 years in prison for giving details of the country's atomic program to a British newspaper in 1986.

Upon his release in 2004, Vanunu was banned from leaving the country or talking to foreigners, because Israeli authorities claimed he could still divulge classified information.

A Jerusalem court convicted him on Monday of violating those restrictions by holding contacts with foreigners. Vanunu's attorney, Michael Sfard, said the charges could mean six months in prison. Sentencing was expected within two months, Sfard said.
Emerging from the courtroom, Vanunu said the verdict proved "that Israel is not a democracy," and pleaded to be allowed to leave the country.

"I want to leave this country," he said. "I want to be free."

The details divulged by Vanunu and published in the Sunday Times of London led experts to conclude that Israel has the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, including hundreds of warheads.

Israel has never acknowledged or denied having a nuclear weapons program.