Vanunu loses libel suit against Israeli paper
28 Nov 2005
By Dan Williams
TEL AVIV, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu on Monday
lost a libel suit against an Israeli newspaper that said he had advised Palestinian
fellow inmates on making bombs while serving an 18-year jail term for treason.
The ruling was a fresh setback for Vanunu, 51, who was released last year only
to be barred indefinitely from leaving Israel by Defence Ministry officials
who accuse him of planning to reveal more state secrets. He denies the accusation.
Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court found against Vanunu's claim that Yedioth Ahronoth had libelled him in 1999 by quoting a security chief who said the whistleblower
was caught passing bombmaking tips to Hamas militants in Ashkelon's Shikma
In a 100-page ruling, the court noted Vanunu's denial. It quoted him as saying
the action he was reported by the paper to have carried out was "contrary
to his essence as a lover of peace who opposes, inter alia, atomic weaponry,
yet never sought to harm the security of the state or of its citizens".
The court said it believed Yedioth's source, who headed the Shin Bet security
service at the time and testified in court, and therefore the paper had not
breached Israeli libel laws.
The Islamist group Hamas, sworn to destroying the Jewish state, has carried
out suicide bombings over the past decade and has spearheaded a Palestinian
that erupted in 2000.
Vanunu, a convert to Christianity who lives in a Jerusalem church hostel helped
by donations from foreign supporters, was ordered to pay 36,000 shekels ($7,700)
in court costs.
He declined comment pending consultations with his lawyers.
A former technician at Israel's Dimona reactor, Vanunu all but blew away the
country's nuclear secrecy by discussing his work with a British newspaper in
1986. His revelations led experts to conclude Israel had 100 to 200 atomic
Since his release from prison, Vanunu has angered Israeli officials by violating
bans on contacts with foreign journalists and travel to Palestinian-ruled areas
in the occupied West Bank.
He was released on bail on Nov. 19 after being detained a day earlier at a
West Bank military checkpoint.
Vanunu accuses the Israeli government of trying to gag his anti-nuclear campaign.
Israel neither confirms nor denies having an atomic arsenal under a policy
ambiguity" billed as warding off regional foes while avoiding an arms