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'He Has Suffered Long Enough For His Crime of Conscience'

Text of the Lynn Rivers letter to President Clinton, co-signed
March 18 by 35 Members of Congress:

Dear Mr. President:

        As Members of Congress we are writing to ask for your intercession on behalf of a man who lingers in prison simply for his belief in global peace.

        Mordechai Vanunu was convicted of treason and sentenced to 18 years in an Israeli prison for giving information to a British newspaper about his government's unacknowledged nuclear installation at Dimona, where he had worked for nine years in the plutonium separation unit. Mr. Vanunu told his story as an act of conscience and to inform his fellow citizens and the world, not for personal financial gain.

        From 1986 to 1998 Mr. Vanunu was held in an isolation cell under conditions described by Amnesty International as "cruel, inhumane, and degrading." This prisoner of conscience is the subject of a worldwide campaign for his release. Joining the campaign are former President Jimmy Carter, the Jewish Peace Fellowship, Terry Anderson, Bishop Edmund L. Browning of the Episcopal Church, and the Federation of American Scientists.

        It is important to emphasize that nuclear weapons experts, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Joseph Rotblat, have certified that Mr. Vanunu has nothing to reveal that could in any way jeopardize the security of Israel. In fact, Shin Bet, Israel's internal security force, allowed Mr. Vanunu to be moved from solitary confinement to a group cell. According to a member of the Knesset, Yossi Katz, this decision was based on the fact that Mr. Vanunu did not pose a threat to Israel's security. Despite this fact, the prison parole board has denied Mr. Vanunu his freedom on grounds that he remains a threat to Israel.

        As members of Congress, we believe that Mordechai Vanunu has suffered long enough for his crime of conscience. Mr. President, Mr. Vanunu stands for the ideal that every child has the right to live in a world that is free from the threat of nuclear devastation.

        While we have no desire to interfere in the affairs of a foreign government, we believe we have a duty to stand up for men and women like Mordechai Vanunu. That is, men and women who dare to articulate a brighter vision for all humanity. Accordingly, Mr. President, we ask that you use your good offices to persuade the appropriate authorities in Israel to release Mordechai Vanunu from prison on humanitarian grounds. We believe that this case has implications for human rights and world peace that transcend national boundaries.

        Please consider our request, and give good will the credit it deserves.

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